Lázár, widely read for his children’s tales and tales for adults, and Tar, who is read by a smaller circle of admirers for his beautifully told somber stories, seem like an odd couple, indeed, a seemingly haphazard choice of authors.
An old lady whose husband has just died of cancer leaves her hometown to join her daughter, a doctor living in the capital. How the initial relief at not having to live the rest of her life alone, forgotten, dutiless, but as a help to her only child soon turns into bewilderment, then apathy, and finally to death – this is the topic of Magda Szabó's 1963 novel, originally titled Pilátus (Pilate), now published in Italian under the title La ballata di Iza (Iza's Ballad, published by Einaudi).
Viktor Bodó claims to have used György Petri's translation of Molière's Don Juan for his new production staged in the Katona József Theatre, The Great Sganarelle and Co. Yet it seems as though Don Juan merely provided the original inspiration for Viktor Bodó to set about transplanting this mythic figure to a modern urban setting.
"None of the hysterics and blue funk whether my water’s gonna hold out, and with the groom whispering, even at the church door, you better say no, you bra buster bitch, if you value your life. None of that, love, no! They’re standing there like a pair of lovebirds, all blatant marzipan head to foot, and the three of them weighing in at a hundred pounds if one, cross my heart and hope to die."
In his study on 17th century Flemish painting, Zbigniew Herbert was surprised to find that while contemporary masters of a good reputation tried their luck abroad, the truly great, such as Vermeer, Hals or Rembrandt, never crossed the Alps. In fact, they never ventured as far as the nearest country.
László Krasznahorkai is not a fashionable writer. He is marching directly against what the age is about: that literature should become part of the entertainment industry. He is failing to adapt smoothly to what is going on. This art is powerfully pitched against the intention to skim through life laughing or just sticking it out as best you can without taking any particular risk.
Satan Tango is a novel about trust and its betrayal in many forms. The message is bleak: anyone who invests trust and hope in anything or anyone is almost bound to be disappointed and can only blame themselves for giving that trust and hope in the first place. There is certainly no redemption or transcendence to be had in this world.
"This was a pledge we had made together. We knew very well that we could not have children. If we did, we would expose ourselves to the regime. And this was a generation which did not want to get involved in a phoney game." – Magda Szabó (89) talks to writer János Háy.
Attila Balogh remarked in a recent interview that he lives in three Hells: disability, Gypsiness, and poetry. He went on to say that it is only the inferno of poetry he cannot bear. His work is certainly a journey beyond and under the edges of the known world where we never dare arrive at the center.
Everybody who knows something about football (and that’s about two billion people) knows that Hungarian football is dead. It didn’t die just now—its condition gradually deteriorated, and in the end it didn’t even recognize itself in the hospital—but on this day it has been pronounced clinically dead.