The Game for Real by Richard Weiner

The Game for Real by Richard Weiner

“For me, the pinnacles of prose are
Hašek, Kafka, Weiner, Klima.”
—Bohumil Hrabal, author of Harlequin’s Millions

“The crowning achievement of Richard Weiner’s career and one of the most powerful works of Czech Modernist literature.”
—PEN America“Richard Weiner is considered to be one of the most important Czech
writers of the 20th century.”
— Alfred Thomas, professor of European Literature, University of Illinois

  • The first-ever book in English by an existentialist master celebrated throughout Eastern Europe
  • The author wrote with the French Surrealists and has been favorably compared to Franz Kafka


Called “The Man of Pain” by the sci-fi author Karel Čapek (who popularized the word “robot”), Richard Weiner is one of European literature’s best-kept secrets. The Game for Real marks the long overdue arrival of his dreamlike, anxiety-ridden fiction into English.

Opening with The Game of Quartering, an unnamed hero discovers his double. Surely, he reasons, if he has a double, then his double must also have a double too, and so on . . . What follows is a grotesquely hilarious, snowballing spree through Paris, where actual landmarks disintegrate into theaters, puppet shows, and, ultimately, a funeral.

Following this, The Game for the Honor of Payback neatly inverts things: instead of a branching, expanding adventure, a man known as “Shame” embarks on a quest that collapses inward. Slapped by someone he despises, he launches a doomed crusade to return the insult. As the stakes grow ever higher, it seems that Shame will stop at nothing—even if he discovers he’s chasing his own tail.

Blending metaphysical questions with farcical humor, bizarre twists, and acute psychology, The Game for Real is a riveting exploration of who we are—and why we can’t be so sure we know.

Richard Weiner (1884 – 1937) is widely considered to be one of the most important Czech writers of the 20th century. The author of several works of poetry and prose, his writing was suppressed during the Communist period and only became recognized for its importance after 1989.

Benjamin Paloff is a professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Michigan. He is the translator of several works of prose and poetry and the author of a book of poetry, The Politics. He is the recipient of fellowships from Poland’s Book Institute (2010), the National Endowment for the Arts (2009-2010), the Michigan Society of Fellows (2007-2010), and PEN America, and he was a poetry editor at the Boston Review for seven years.