When renowned film director Péter Gárdos wrote the story, he intended it as a film script, but eventually he made it into a novel. “Fever at Dawn,” the love story of two Holocaust survivors―the author’s parents―has ever since sold in more than 20 territories.
The recent publication of Sándor Márai’s novella, Esther’s Inheritance, provides not only a new addition to a steadily growing list of Márai works available in English, but also raises a series of provocative questions in a debate that has occupied critics since the unprecedented international success of the author’s novel, Embers, in 2000.
The word “happy” is a surprisingly rarely used term in Hungarian literature, and this is one of the reasons why I chose to use it. It is rather the expressions for “unhappiness” that have become all too trivial.
"GYŐZŐ: Pest, the big smoke, is full of labouring proles, / Juicy with gossip about us on the hill. / Down there the streets are cordoned off. Cops know / They need not cordon streets off up in Buda.
KÁLMÁN: I’m faintly aware of a sickening distant buzz: / Here we go again: they’re burning cars. / Here we go again: uproot that call-box. / Here we go again: the piercing sirens. / Here we go again: streets full of teargas."
Great swarms of Hungarians are leaving the country, the biggest wave since the 1956 revolution was repressed. "You should leave the place that’s not good for you. Those who are leaving are right to do so. And they will regret it, just like those who will stay", poet and ex-MP Endre Kukorelly reckons.