06. 06. 2018. 10:13

Bucket List for Hungarian Book Week 2018

The Festive Book Week is about to start, therefore, we looked at what new releases the publishers have to offer. We recommend the works of Réka Mán-Várhegyi, Imre Bartók, Dénes Krusovszky, László Márton and Zsófia Bán.

It feels as if the title of Réka Mán-Várhegyi’s novel came from a fairytale: Magnetic Mountain. Enikő Börönd, a sociologist in her thirties returns from New York to Budapest in the summer of 1999. She wants to do research and write, but she has writer’s block. Meanwhile, the career of Tamás Bogdán, also a sociologist, is soaring. He has affairs with his students, including Enikő Börönd. Just like in Unhappiness at Aurora (Boldogtalanság az Auróra-telepen (2014)) Réka Mán-Várhegyi paints a complex picture. We get a glimpse at lives interconnected or independent from each other, where everybody can seem both ridiculous and frail. Gábor Németh wrote on Unhappiness at Aurora: “The heroes submerge in Nothingness as if “Heidegger” was the name of a fancy fitness studio and unhappiness a form of perverted but fashionable way of entertainment. Is wickedness a form of esthetics? No. This book is full of understanding. You cannot say I didn’t warn you, Réka Mán-Várhegyi is a great, realist writer.” Magnetic Mountain (Mágneshegy) is a series of images that are also serious statements about all our yesterdays.

Jericho Evolving (Jerikó épül), the new novel by Imre Bartók is a surprising mixture of an autobiography, a family saga and a coming of age story. The story spans twenty years; based on the experiences of the 80s and 90s generation it creates a story that twists and alters reality, turning a personal story into a story with revelations of cultural history and theology. It presents the average days of an average life even if it has its own tragedies by purposefully creating a great gap between the often tragic memories of childhood and an adult’s reflections on the past, showing a development, at the end of which, the complete ruin that life is can be seen and understood. Jericho Evolving is pure provocation, an attempt to create a new literary strategy and language. The author is known mostly for his novel Metal (Fém),  and trilogy The Year of the Rat – The Year of the Goat ­– The Year of The Rabbit (A patkány éve – A kecske éve – A nyúl éve). Jelenkor will publish Jericho Evolving at the Festive Book Week after his 2016 novel I Have Seen the Land of the Fog (Láttam a ködnek az országát), a stone cold novel that is a mixture of metaphysical crime, a mourning novel and satire.

After five volumes of poetry, one collection of essays and a collection of short stories Dénes Krusovszky wrote his first novel. His monumental novel entitled Those we will never be (Akik már nem leszünk sosem) is a monumental story that spans generations and countries. It is not only about personal and collective memory, but also about living on. It is about how our past stories determine our present lives and how we can become responsible adults with them. Published by Magvető, its cover invites us to travel in time with the cassette on the front. The story goes like this: a man dies in a car crash in 1990 on the border of Iowa City. A young man in 2013 goes on a journey to his childhood home from Budapest  the morning after a big fight. In 1986 in a nursing home a man with respiratory paralysis and his nurse record the man’s confession about the influential moments of his childhood. In October 1956 the revolutionary demonstration of a small town turns into a pogrom. In the summer of 2013 a wedding party takes a bizarre turn. In 2017 the pieces of the mosaic seem to come together.

László Márton, after his work False Witness (Hamis Tanú) about the blood libel in Tiszaeszlár now tells the story of a romance. Two Obelisks (Két Obeliszk) is about the complicated love affair of Karl K., a journalist in Vienna and Sidonie N., a countess. Our heroes meet twice, always during the years preceding the two world wars. They fall in love during the fall of 1913, then spend happy days in Sidonia’s Janovice home in June 1914. Their planned marriage fails: the girl marries a count. They find each other in the summer of 1934, this time in Switzerland, which seems like a peaceful haven in the middle of a continent that is about to drift into war again. They are twenty years older and the sickness that will end their love is already skulking in Karl K’s body. The characters in the story can be recognized from history, most events have happened and the two obelisks mentioned in the title still stand. Still, László Marton’s story is fantastic: small pieces of fiction alter the facts and point to the ghastliness of the real historical background. The landscapes of Two Obelisks published by Kalligram are illustrated by the woodcuts of Christian Thanhäuser.

The new collection of prose by Zsófia Bán, mostly known for her excellent essays, states that we Can Breathe (Lehet lélegezni). After Night School (Esti iskola) and Back When Only Animals Existed (Amikor még csak az állatok éltek ) in her current book we can find loud silences, overheard dialogues and inner monologues, sharp or blurred memories and puzzles of love, following each other like breaths. Zsófia Bán creates characters with power, tells stories of near and far sensually and with great irony. The mistakes, torment and pleasure of the body and the tension between home and foreignness determine the world she creates. Where is home? Is it in language or in our memories? In time or space? In images maybe? We can read about elective affinities, about running away and coming home, about the prospect of freedom and that breathing is possible. The book is published by Magvető, with an image of bars of soap from the exhibition by Ágnes Eperjesi, The 365 Days of Don the cover.


(Taken from Litera.hu, translated by Fruzsina Wilheim.)