I was always fascinated by the legends of Budapest – this city is my permanent muse. However traumatized and injured it is, however moody its inhabitants are these days, I love Budapest dearly, and I think it would be impossible for me to ever leave it.
Zsigmond Móricz's Gold in the Mud is a novel that does things with words; it is a novel which deploys an inexorable naturalism and a typifying exaggeration of its characters to express a clear message – serfdom is paralyzing for the aspirational and all-devouring for the ordinary.
A classic of Hungarian literature, this novel tells the story of a peasant Don Juan and leader of a village who, torn between the torpid bliss of his home life and a seething quest for prosperity, follows his urge to break the bonds of his low social status.
He gave his counter-argument, but it was sketchy and sweaty and desperate and above all: angry. The hush that followed testified that I had won the audience over, and put me at ease. We fell silent. No applause, not a single sound came. Then somebody in the first row said quite audibly, "What a pair of narcistic dumbfucks!"
In 2002 a Jewish man recalls the dying days of the Hungary’s Nazi occupation and how, as a fourteen-year-old, he and his family were to be sent to the death camps before coming under the protection of legendary Swiss Vice-Consul, Carl Lutz. – An excerpt from Iván Sándor’s haunting novel, newly translated into English.
Sándor Jászberényi has worked as a correspondent in conflict zones for Hungarian newspapers for many years. His first collection of short stories, The Devil is a Black Dog (2013), is based on his experiences as a journalist in the Middle East.
Dutch writer-journalist Toine Heijmans was the guest of Café Amsterdam Festival in Budapest. Orsolya Réthelyi talked to the writer about his first novel, "On the Sea," that has been awarded the prestigious French prize, Prix Médicis étranger.