“There’s all these beautiful new houses, some with six rooms and split levels, burdened with mortgages, and the head of the household out of work, not to mention the children, they signed a contract to have them, and got promised the moon, and now there’s nothing, just the shit hitting the fan. Then after a while the wife gets fed up and wants a divorce. That’s how things go today. And the houses, Uncle Vida says, the houses are up for sale. But who's gonna want to buy them, he says.”
"...we were superficial at the time of the turn of the century... We really believed we were invulnerable." – Born in Hungary, Terézia Mora (1971) has been living in Berlin from 1990. She is the author of a collection of short stories and a novel, written in German.
One of the Hungarian literary sensations of the last decade, Jadviga's Pillow (1997) was an oddity in Hungary, being both a critical and a public success. The novel, portraying life in a Slovak village in Hungary between the two world wars, was recently published in German under the title Das Kissen der Jadviga.
In 1996 I visited Hungary for the first time in 18 years. I came from New York with my laptop and a thoroughly Americanized mind. I found the country completely different from the grey death camp I left almost two decades ago. It was now a bursting, yet somehow utterly depressed and depressing Balkan bazaar, a kind of Mad Max land in King Ubu’s empire, where most people I met were in a bad mood.
Over the recent period, a number of authors have left contemporary Hungarian literature and entered the national pantheon who had one crucial trait in common, namely, that they may fairly be called the last "big game" of modern day Central and Eastern European literature.
The plot of Casemates is based on the darkest moment of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution: the siege of the Communist Party Headquarters in Budapest. With the 50th anniversary of the revolution well nigh, this is no one's idea of a flattering, commemorative play. Rather, it is an excoriating piece of provocation.
Agota Kristof (70) paid a brief visit to Budapest for the first time after four years. This time, she was participating in the 'Exile' programme focussing on emigrant authors from Eastern Europe. Agota Kristof arrived in Neuchâtel as a refugee in 1956 with her husband and young baby, and she has lived there ever since.