Name? Hungarian history. Nationality? Hungarian, he screamed, and it sounded as if hundreds of virgin cadets were swearing in. Could you say it a bit less loudly, I ask him. So he whispers like a dying person: Hungarian. Then I say, couldn’t you just say it naturally? Like, Hungarian. But that’s too difficult. To be natural. To pretend that it doesn’t hurt, that it doesn’t vex; that it isn’t annoying, isn’t too tight. Hungarian. That’s what there is. And that’s enough. Too much even. Too little.
In 1958, somebody - the name is unimportant - his face beaming, tells his wife that it says in the newspaper Jóska Gáli has been sentenced to death, that is the József Gáli who was later to make a name for himself as a translator, whom his friend had last seen fourteen years before, when they were being herded into railroad trucks. The wife asks why he is so happy that Jóska Gáli has been sentenced to death. Answer: because that means he is alive!