Hrabal worked as a lawyer, clerk, railwayman, traveling salesman, steelworker, and laborer before turning to literature in 1962. In his tragic-comic novels and short stories he concentrates on the everyday lives of ordinary people. Thomas Lask says, "Hrabal shows an offbeat, original mind, a fey imagination and a sure hand in constructing his tales" (N.Y. Times Bk. Review). Hrabal's novel Closely Watched Trains (1965) was made into an internationally successful movie.