Alexandra Jacobs
May 29, 1998 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Unbearable lightness, indeed: Czech-born eminence Kundera’s self-parodying new Identity: A Novel is only 168 pages long, but it feels like an eternity; written originally in French rather than his native tongue, it’s flakier than a croissant. Gone are the clever aphorisms, the neatly concentric subplots that made works like Immortality so enriching. In their place is a love story seemingly patterned after Josephine Hart (mysterious letters, a not-so-secret secret admirer, a heaving bosom or two) and a few carelessly tossed philosophical scraps, like awful leading man Jean-Marc’s reverie on the ”three kinds of boredom.” In this case, there’s only one — but it’s deadly. C-

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