"All these forgotten destinies had an effect on the kid. In point of fact, the whole world is a conspiracy like this one, as hatched upon us by others. These people exist in order to take the grievances they have accumulated in their lives out on us in the most devious way possible, and by the time you notice, you are already standing there with a knife in your hand ready to kill someone."
After Péter Nádas' great novel A Book of Memories, which has been compared to works by Joyce, Musil and Proust, American readers can now get a glimpse of the full range of the author's talent. A collection of short stories, essays and literary criticism by Péter Nádas entitled Fire and Knowledge was published recently by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
The book seems to be an ironic game in which the didactic function of literature is questioned. Yet the situation is more complicated than that: Zsófia Bán seems to inscribe her own ideological messages into the text. Her aim is obviously to teach, not merely to amuse and delight.
"I married and divorced, but all the thoughts running through my head were: goal-kicking and Maria Schneider. I managed to trade off my small council apartment for a larger one through a fictitious contract, but all the while I was occupied with the thought of goal-kicking and Maria Schneider."
Magda Szabó's Katalin Street is winner of the Prix Cévennes, awarded for the first time to the best European novel of the year. A novel of childhood nostalgia and the fate of relationships formed in childhood, Katalin Street tells the story of three families who live in the same street in Budapest.
"Zehuze" – that's how it goes: this quasi-magical phrase returns over and over again in this monumental novel composed of letters written by a mother to her daughter. The daughter returns to her mother's native land, Hungary, from her land of birth, Palestine, to build a happy new world...
The life and work of Géza Csáth, a talented and versatile child of the fin-de-siècle – writer, music theoretician, psychiatrist, drug addict, lucid portrayer of altered states of consciousness and a man who murdered his own wife – has been rediscovered in recent years.
The Spanish Bride depicts the way in which young girls' dreams turn sour, female ambitions for 'a decent life' founder and the foul destruction of amorous illusions goes past the bounds of parody and fades into bitter, grotesque tragedy.
Sensuality as a subject is becoming ever more impossible to bypass in Hungarian literature. More and more often one finds the body in the centre of literary representation and authors have no choice but to look for a language with which to describe erotic experiences which are, incidentally, known to resist classification.