To account for this novel, you have to think through how the title and the keyword “insignificance” play out here. It’s a short novel, and it’s a novel of light touches. The structure is not all that dissimilar from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, with expats living in a foreign land being checked in upon by the author as narrator.
Here, we have a similar story…a various sort of people living in Paris in more or less contemporary times. They are friends, they talk about life, they talk about eroticism, they talk about language, and the talk about love. And so to decide what this novel means, take the keyword. Here insignificance is seen as a strength or even a virtue, but at the very least a net positive. Having the ability to be insignificant allows one to be there with leaving a trace, to move stealthily, if not actually secretly, and to present oneself to the world without creating or requiring a challenge. And so this is a net positive because it almost takes the pressure of making an impression. There’s the famous poem by Stephen Crane “A Man said unto the universe “Sir I exist”….and this novel takes the opposite tack. The so what that the universe gives back is freeing.
So the issue with this novel is its limitations. It’s a French novel written by a Czech writer translated into English. The lightness in the narration is some balance between that translation and the narration. Also, by this novel Kundera is getting older and maybe waning. I will check back in with other writings because my audiobook provider has a bunch of his stuff!