"it seemed he had some problem understanding the whole story, as if he hadn't heard the beginning of it over the saccharine wailing of Mustafa Sandal, or had missed a vital word in the discourse" – An excerpt from László Krasznahorkai's new collection of writing translated by George Szirtes.
A stark depiction of life in a Hungarian village under communism as seen from the perspective of a young child, Ferenc Barnás’ novel The Ninth recounts the events of roughly a year in the life of a young boy and his family’s struggle to subsist by circumventing and exploiting the peculiarities of the socialist system as best they are able.
"Slips of paper fell to the ground when the little girl impatiently shook the boxes open. The first one said, NO!, the second said, YES!, and the third said, MAYBE! Klára whispered hoarsely to herself, like someone holding untold wealth. 'Yes, no, maybe, and it’s all mine, mine, mine!'"
In the first half of the 1960s, when I was born, and in the second half of the decade, when my memories begin, the village was entering the final phases of its narrative, bitter, sad, already less idyllic, weighted down by strains. The deep fissure, however, was not drawn between the village and the world outside the village, but within the village itself.
The names of twelve European authors to receive the first ever European Union Prize for Literature have been announced by the European Commission. The Hungarian winner is Noémi Szécsi's novel, Communist Monte Cristo.
Berlin-Hamlet is a rich tapestry of "subjective", "pseudo-subjective" and "meditative" texts, all related to present-day Berlin, though tinged with memories of more sinister places like Wannsee, where the decision about the systematic extermination of European Jews was taken by Nazi bureaucrats in 1942.
Dezso Tandori, whose early poetry "initiated what was later to be seen as a major revolution ... in recent Hungarian poetry", turned 70 this year. Critic Ferenc Takács outlines the career of this extremely versatile and prolific poet whose list of works amounts to no less than one hundred volumes of poetry, fiction and drama.
"GYŐZŐ: Pest, the big smoke, is full of labouring proles, / Juicy with gossip about us on the hill. / Down there the streets are cordoned off. Cops know / They need not cordon streets off up in Buda. KÁLMÁN: I’m faintly aware of a sickening distant buzz: / Here we go again: they’re burning cars. / Here we go again: uproot that call-box. / Here we go again: the piercing sirens. / Here we go again: streets full of teargas."
Out of all the stellar authors whose works arose during the first decades of the 20th century, Dezső Kosztolányi (1885–1936) alone succeeded in capturing the hearts of colleague and reader alike. Surprisingly enough, this rare sense of loving devotion is still typical of the way readers continue to regard him today.
An unparalleled literary event in all of Europe, the Hungarian Festive Book Week turns 80 this year. It is the only event on the continent to focus on national culture and literature every single year since it was first organized in 1929, promoting authors and literary workshops in all major towns across the country.