Ervin Lázár is the creator of a genre we may safely call
Central European folk surrealism, which takes on the quality of a
hallucinatory exploration into that part of the soul where beauty, hope,
and yearning live in close proximity with the harsh realities of life.
Fehér’s novel contains all of the elements characteristic of Hungarian society and culture at the time of the regime change. What emerges is the often-mentioned image of a cobbled-together Hungary, complete with a motley, lurching collection of objects and people.
Captivity was a conscious emigration into the great events of a great era. Our world here, the world we were socialised into, is a small and shabby world. Being part of a small nation is usually not favourable for great prose and drama.
"There was no doubt of it, the dark coat on the rack could mean only one thing: a guest had arrived, an unusual guest at that, because the coat was stern-looking, grim, quite unlike the coat that usually hung on that rack, so shabby, and threadbare I didn't even feel like doing what I usually did when left alone with strange coats in the hallway and go through the pockets and, if I found some loose change, cling to the wall, listen for noises, wait for the right moment, and then steal a few fillers or forints."
Today in Hungary any intellectual who feels
responsible for the community and tries to mediate, faces serious
difficulties. If someone wants to write about public issues and social
questions, independently and in an unbiased way, they could easily be
forced into a strict dichotomy and mindless political logic. A kind of
courage is needed, therefore, in order to speak up, because each word
could touch a nerve.