Encounter, By Milan Kundera

Although this cluster of essays on his favourite pioneers (translated by Linda Asher) does not offer the overarching theorem of a treatise such as The Curtain, Encounter proves that Kundera the critic bracingly matches Kundera the novelist.

We begin with Francis Bacon and the "accidental" horror of physical existence, and move to novelists such as Céline and Philip Roth.

After an aptly fragmentary debate on the idea of "heritage" and a surreal Caribbean-Creole excursion, scattered pieces on creators from Janacek to Brecht confront our "bottomless nostalgia" for the past with the broken present.

Don't come here for neat soundbites or slogans, but for glistening shards of insight into modernist art's "fascinating and difficult newness".