Jean Echenoz's literary portrait of Emil Zátopek is a beautiful little book. My Norwegian review can be found here.
I've only read one of Echenoz's books previously, his Je m'en vais, which I read ten years ago. And until I read Running last week I had totally forgotten how much I appreciate his way of writing. Echenoz is very precise in his language, he is sharp, lucid and clear. A bit sarcastic, and sometimes very funny - in a subtile kind of way.
Running can be read as a history of Czechoslovakia 1938-1968, even if politics are barely mentioned, its always there, within the story, implicit. And isn't really one of the most important qualities and advantages of art, to tell the history of the world trough single individuals, through people we can relate to, identify with?
Emil Zátopek was no ordinary man when it came to running, but apart from his extreme talent, he seems to have been a common man. So when all the rackets of hot and cold wars emerges on the stage, all Zátopek really wants to do, is to go on with his everyday life.
But of course we never can ...
Echenoz's Ravel and Piano are both on my reading list