Noémi Szécsi’s “Finno-Ugrian Vampire”, a novel about a reluctant vampire girl in 20th century Hungary, was published in the UK by Stork Press.
The narrator of the story is Jerne Voltampere, who has just returned to Budapest after studying at an English college. Her 284-year-old grandmother still looks like a young woman, and no wonder: every night she sucks the blood of assorted men. She is a vampire, and she wants her reluctant granddaughter to follow the family tradition. Jerne writes children’s books, but they are considered too bloody to be published. Her grandmother wants her to give up her literary ambitions, as well as eating salad, and become a vampire. (“If you want something really nutritious, order a pizza delivery boy.”) Jerne takes up a job as an editor, but discovers that the married couple who run the publishing house are also vampirically inclined. Her next job is in a vegetarian restaurant, but eventually, she finds herself as a vampire and as a writer.
Born in 1976, Noémi Szécsi is a writer, translator and journalist with five novels to her name, including The Finno-Ugrian Vampire, a book on pregnancy, the 2009 European Union Prize-winning Communist Monte Cristo, a novel on present-day anarchists entitled Last Centaur, and her most recent, The Restless, a novel on Hungarian emigrants in Europe after the 1849 Hungarian War of Independence against the Habsburgs. She was spending a year in Helsinki in 2000 on a grant when she wrote The Finno-Ugrian Vampire, instead of her thesis in Finnish literature.
“Despite having been published years before the whole Twilight phenomenon, The Finno-Ugrian Vampire could have been written as a tailor-made antidote to all that overwrought adolescent keening, with its refreshing injection of sardonic humour into the vampire vein.” (Bookoxygen)
“this novel is only partially about Jerne finding herself as vampire and writer; it's also an entertaining, sly commentary on Hungary, both specifically around 2000 and more generally.” (Complete Review)
“It is, among other things, a clever satire on the whole notion of Hungarian-ness, nationalism and the stereotypes of Eastern Europe” (Tibor Fischer, The Guardian)
Stork Press is an independent publishing house based in London and dedicated to new writing from Central and Eastern Europe. The novel was translated into English by Peter Sherwood, who is Distinguished Professor of Hungarian Language and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and translator of Trees, a volume of essays by Béla Hamvas, as well as of Miklós Vámos’s The Book of Fathers.
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