It is nasty, dirty weather outside there on the puszta; the sky is cloudy, the earth muddy, the rain has been falling for two weeks incessantly, as if by special command. There are inundations and submersions everywhere; rushes are growing instead of wheat, the stork is ploughing, the duck is fishing all over the precious sea-like expanse. “This judgment weather began on St. Medardus’ Day, and will last now for forty days longer, but if it does last, I know not where we are to find the Noah to save man and beast from a partial deluge.”
Jenő Rejtő - The Blonde Hurricane
Jenő Rejtő (1905-1943) was a journalist, prolific author of cabaret skits, and the steadfast practitioner of comic thrillers with unforgettable characters and one-liners that together have become part and parcel of Hungarian literary folklore. Delightfully grotesque parodies of the detective novels that had their heyday at the time, Rejtő wrote most of his books in the 1930s under the pen-name of P Howard. The Blonde Hurricane is one of the best of the lot. A combination of thriller and love story, it centres around the race to find a priceless family jewel concealed in a statuette of Buddha that an international band of crooks are after - and so is Miss Evelyn Weston, the Blonde Hurricane, and without her knowledge, Eddy Rancing, who is in love with her, plus a host of others. Everyone is being pursued as well as pursuing everyone else, from England to the African desert and back. Meanwhile, the humour comes pouring out of Rejto's pen as fast and furious as it did from his famous contemporary R G. Wodehouse.
Magda Szabó - The Door
A busy young writer struggling to cope with domestic chores, hires a housekeeper recommended by a friend. The housekeeper's reputation is one built on dependable efficiency, though she is something of an oddity. Stubborn, foul-mouthed and with a flagrant disregard for her employer's opinions she may even be crazy. She allows no-one to set foot inside her house; she masks herself with a veil and is equally guarded about her personal life. And yet Emerence is revered as much as she is feared. As the story progresses, her energy and passion to help becomes clear, extinguishing any doubts arising out of her bizarre behaviour. A stylishly told tale which recounts a strange relationship built up over 20 years between a writer and her housekeeper. After an unpromising and caustic start, benign feelings develop and ultimately the writer benefits from what becomes an inseparable relationship. Simultaneously we learn Emerence's tragic past which is revealed in snapshots throughout this book.
Dezső Kosztolányi - Anna Édes
This long out-of-print novel by Hungarian writer Kosztolanyi (1885-1936) takes place in Budapest just after the end of WW I. The city is occupied by Romanian troops after having undergone two brief social revolutions. The novel focuses on the plight of a young peasant woman who comes to work as a maid for the Vizys, a pathologically self-absorbed middle-class couple who are struggling to maintain their social standing amidst the ever-changing political climate. Pleased with Anna's almost robotic work ethic, Mrs. Vizy becomes obsessed with maintaining her servant's loyalty through psychological manipulation. A metaphor for the inhumanity of Hungary's precarious bourgeoisie, the novel follows Anna's victimization by her employers, her fellow servants and the Vizys' dissolute nephew as she struggles to achieve even the slightest emotional connection. Kosztolanyi's characters are ironic to the point of caricature, except Anna, whose inexplicable simple-mindedness limits the reader's sympathy for her. The novel nevetheless provides fascinating insight into a volatile period in Europe's history, laying bare the barbarism and hypocrisy inherent in all strata of society. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Antal Szerb - Oliver VII (angol)
The restless ruler of an obscure Central European state plots a coup against himself and escapes to Venice in search of "real" experience. There he falls in with a team of con-men and ends up, to his own surprise, impersonating himself. His journey through successive levels of illusion and reality teaches him much about the world, his own nature, and the paradoxes of the human condition.
Frigyes Karinthy - A Journey Round My Skull
The distinguished Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy was sitting in a Budapest café, wondering whether to write a long-planned monograph on modern man or a new play, when he was disturbed by the roaring—so loud as to drown out all other noises—of a passing train. Soon it was gone, only to be succeeded by another. And another. Strange, Karinthy thought, it had been years since Budapest had streetcars. Only then did he realize he was suffering from an auditory hallucination of extraordinary intensity. What in fact Karinthy was suffering from was a brain tumor, not cancerous but hardly benign, though it was only much later—after spells of giddiness, fainting fits, friends remarking that his handwriting had altered, and books going blank before his eyes—that he consulted a doctor and embarked on a series of examinations that would lead to brain surgery. Karinthy’s description of his descent into illness and his observations of his symptoms, thoughts, and feelings, as well as of his friends’ and doctors’ varied responses to his predicament, are exact and engrossing and entirely free of self-pity. A Journey Round My Skull is not only an extraordinary piece of medical testimony, but a powerful work of literature—one that dances brilliantly on the edge of extinction. (Oliver Sacks)
Sándor Márai - Embers
As darkness settles on a forgotten castle at the foot of the Carpathian mountains, two men sit down to a final meal together. They have not seen one another in forty-one years. At their last meeting, in the company of a beautiful woman, an unspoken act of betrayal left all three lives shattered – and each of them alone. Tonight, as wine stirs the blood, it is time to talk of old passions and that last, fateful meeting.
Mór Jókai - The Baron's Sons
The post-prandial orator was in the midst of his toast, the champagne-foam ran over the edge of his glass and trickled down his fat fingers, his lungs were expanded and his vocal chords strained to the utmost in the delivery of the well-rounded period upon which he was launched, and the blood was rushing to his head in the generous enthusiasm of the moment. In that brilliant circle of guests every man held his hand in readiness on the slender stem of his glass and waited, all attention, for the toast to come to an end in a final dazzling display of oratorical pyrotechnics. The attendants hastened to fill the half-empty glasses, and the leader of the gypsy orchestra, which was stationed at the farther end of the hall, held his violin-bow in the air, ready to fall in at the right moment with a burst of melody that should drown the clinking of glasses at the close of the toast.
Vilmos Kondor - Budapest Noir (angol)
The passing of the Hungarian prime minister before he could realize his dream of a fascist state has little effect on crime reporter Zsigmond Gordon. Life—and death—go on in the bustling old city, and a late-night tip soon leads him to a crime scene where a young woman lies dead, a Jewish prayer book in her purse. Disturbed by the bizarre circumstances—the corpse of a beautiful, well-groomed, religious victim abandoned in one of Budapest's seedier neighborhoods—Gordon is determined to unravel the mystery of her demise, especially after her shocking identity is revealed. The investigation will lead him deep into the city's dark underbelly—a shadow world of pornographers, crime syndicates, and Communist cells—and to the highest echelons of power, where one of Hungary's most influential executives plans to make an economic killing through his strong political ties to Germany's leaders...if he can somehow keep secret the fact that he was, at one time, Jewish. A gripping and evocative thriller, brimming with suspense and breathtaking political intrigue, Vilmos Kondor's Budapest Noir is a richly atmospheric tale of murder and betrayal from a remarkable new voice in noir detective fiction.
Sándor Márai - Esther's Inheritance
From the great Hungarian writer Sándor Márai, Esther's Inheritance is the tautly suspenseful story of a long-ago unrequited love and its vivid consequences twenty years later. What is it to be in love with a pathological liar and fantasist? Esther is, and has been for the more than two decades since Lajos disappeared from her life. Now all these years later Lajos is returning, and the news brings both panic and excitement. While no longer young, and thoroughly skeptical about Lajos and his lies, Esther still remembers how incredibly alive she felt when he was around. His presence bewitches everyone, and the greatest part of his charm - and his danger - lies in the deftness with wich he wields that delicate power. Nothing good can come of this: friends rally round protectively, but Lajos's arrival begins a day of high theather that will leave Esther's life dramatically changed again.
Miklós Bánffy - They Were Found Wanting
The tale of the two Transylvanian cousins, their loves, and their very different fortunes continues in this second volume of the Transylvanian trilogy. Balint Abady is forced to part from the beautiful and unhappily married Adrienne Uzdy, while Lazlo Gyeroffy is rapidly heading for self-destruction through excessive drinking and his own fecklessness. Politicians, quarreling among themselves and stubbornly ignoring their countrymen's real needs, are still pursuing their vendetta with the Habsburg rule of Hungary from Vienna. Meanwhile, they fail to notice how the Great Powers--through such events as Austria's annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908--are moving ever closer to the conflagration of 1914-1918 that will destroy their world forever. Contrasting a life of privilege and corruption with the lives and problems of an expatriate Romanian peasant minority whom Balint tries to help, this portrait is an unrivalled evocation of a rich and fascinating aristocratic world oblivious of its impending demise.
Antal Szerb - Journey by Moonlight
Anxious to please his bourgeois father, Mihaly has joined the family firm in Budapest. Pursued by nostalgia for his bohemian youth, he seeks escape in marriage to Erzsi, not realising that she has chosen him as a means to her own rebellion. On their honeymoon in Italy, Mihaly 'loses' his bride at a provincial station and embarks on a chaotic and bizarre journey that leads him finally to Rome. There all the death-haunted and erotic elements of his past converge, and he, like Erzsi, has finally to make a choice.
Dezső Kosztolányi - Skylark
It is 1900, give or take a few years. The Vajkays—call them Mother and Father—live in Sárszeg, a dead-end burg in the provincial heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Father retired some years ago to devote his days to genealogical research and quaint questions of heraldry. Mother keeps house. Both are utterly enthralled with their daughter, Skylark. Unintelligent, unimaginative, unattractive, and unmarried, Skylark cooks and sews for her parents and anchors the unremitting tedium of their lives. Now Skylark is going away, for one week only, it’s true, but a week that yawns endlessly for her parents. What will they do? Before they know it, they are eating at restaurants, reconnecting with old friends, attending the theater. And this is just a prelude to Father’s night out at the Panther Club, about which the less said the better. Drunk, in the light of dawn Father surprises himself and Mother with his true, buried, unspeakable feelings about Skylark. Then, Skylark is back. Is there a world beyond the daily grind and life's creeping disappointments? Kosztolányi’s crystalline prose, perfect comic timing, and profound human sympathy conjure up a tantalizing beauty that lies on the far side of the irredeemably ordinary. To that extent, Skylark is nothing less than a magical book.
Arthur Koestler - Darkness at Noon
Originally published in 1941, Arthur Koestler's modern masterpiece, Darkness At Noon, is a powerful and haunting portrait of a Communist revolutionary caught in the vicious fray of the Moscow show trials of the late 1930s. During Stalin's purges, Nicholas Rubashov, an aging revolutionary, is imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the party he has devoted his life to. Under mounting pressure to confess to crimes he did not commit, Rubashov relives a career that embodies the ironies and betrayals of a revolutionary dictatorship that believes it is an instrument of liberation. A seminal work of twentieth-century literature, Darkness At Noon is a penetrating exploration of the moral danger inherent in a system that is willing to enforce its beliefs by any means necessary.
Zsigmond Móricz - Captive Lion
A regény cselekménye mindössze annyi, hogy egy középkorú hivatalnok majdnem megcsalja a feleségét. Ezt a banális történetet megszenvedett emberismerettel, a férfit és a nőt egyaránt mély megértéssel ábrázolta a szerző, egymástól függő lelki fejlődésüket páratlanul mélyen rajzolta meg, a legmagasabb rendű művészi hatást érve el: egyszerre sírunk és nevetünk rajtuk. Az egymásba bogozódó, egymást és önmagukat meddőn hergelő, szinte a gyilkosságig és öngyilkosságig heccelő, teljes kudarcba és reménytelenségbe fulladó, tragikomikus öregedési folyamatot ennyire tökéletes ívben talán még senki sem ábrázolta. A regényt záró magyar haláltánc a második világháború előtti Európa ma is közkeletű hazugságait feledhetetlen, éles kontúrú képbe rántja össze. A regényt angol nyelven olvashatjuk.
Antal Szerb - The Pendragon Legend
At an end-of-London-season soirée, the young Hungarian scholar-dilettante Janos Bátky is introduced to the Earl of Gwynedd, a reclusive eccentric who is the subject of strange rumors. Invited to the family seat—Pendragon Castle in North Wales—Bátky receives a mysterious phone call warning him not to go; but he does and finds himself in a bizarre world of mysticism and romance, animal experimentation, and planned murder. His quest to solve the central mystery takes him down strange byways—old libraries and warehouse cellars, Welsh mountains and underground tombs.
Attila Bartis - Tranquility
Tranquility is narrated by a writer, Andor Weér, and is a novel about the three very damaged women in his life and their intertwined relationships. The novel begins with the funeral of his mother, whom he can finally lay to rest. For fifteen years they lived together in the same apartment that she refused to leave, for fifteen years he had to endure here questioning ("Wherehaveyoubeenson?") and general misanthropy. Andor's sister, Judit, was a very talented and dedicated violinist, a budding star who defected to the West as soon as she could -- to escape Mom more than Communism, defection offering a buffer that she hoped would keep her at a safe distance, so that she would not longer have to try to erase herself, as Bartis nicely has her try to do. Overbearing Mom was a star in her own right, a famous actress, but her career came to an abrupt halt as soon as her daughter betrayed the motherland. The authorities tried to get her to entice Judit back, and when she couldn't she went so far as to declare that her daughter was dead to her and even went through a semi-mock funeral, complete with coffin (an impressive but awful and creepy scene). Judit stayed abroad, the authorities were unimpressed, and Rebeka Weér's acting career was over; henceforward she stayed in her apartment, and woe any uninvited guest who wanted to drop by for a visit ..... Andor can only stand up to Mom so much, but he does escape for short bursts. He tries to maintain the fiction of Judit staying in touch with her family by penning letters in her name and then having people who travel abroad send them, but Judit herself is never heard from again; as it turns out, the promising star was too damaged by Mom to truly make good a complete escape and turned to erasing herself again. Andor eventually finds a lover, Eszter, but she also comes with a lot of baggage, and it's a complicated relationship that develops. Mrs. Weér is no help, her reaction when Andor shows up at their doorstep with Eszter enough to scare anyone off. And it's not a matter of Andor standing up to his mother: this lady is such a single-minded, narcissistic, paranoid loon that there's nothing to be done -- until she finally conveniently dies. Rebeka Weér's strong, if highly unpleasant, personality certainly give Tranquility much of its momentum (careening through domestic catastrophes), but undriven Andor slows things down again. He and his fumblings -- and detours like a reading tour or his small attempts at escape from Mom, at least for a few days or hours -- are probably a necessary antidote to his mother's insanity, but leave the book oddly bogged down. Andor's relationships with Judit and Eszter -- especially that vacuum that Judit leaves behind, and which turns out to be even greater than he had imagined -- are well done, but there are an awful lot of deeply damaged souls the Bartis is juggling here. Yes, there's a comic side to it all too, especially Mom's paranoid insanities, but it's no pretty picture. The political leads to the personal: each of the women is, in a way, determined by political circumstances -- Juidt by that East-West divide that it would cost too much for her to cross back into, Rebeka by the authorities' control over who can and can't appear on the stage, and Eszter's more complicated childhood background. But aside from their causal effect, politics doesn't play much of a role in the story, even as Hungary is rapidly changing around them. Rebeka remains in her tiny bubble, unable and unwilling in any way to participate in the real world. And Andor is torn between all of this, buffeted around by the women in (and out of) his life. An interesting and very vivid psychological study, with some impressive scenes, but also some very difficult-to-take characters.
Eva Fejos - Bangkok Transit
Bangkok: a sizzling, all-embracing, exotic city where the past and the present intertwine. It’s a place where anything can happen… and anything really does happen. The paths of seven people cross in this metropolis. Seven seekers, for whom this city might be a final destination. Or perhaps it is only the start of a new journey? A successful businessman; a celebrated supermodel; a man who is forever the outsider; a young mother who suddenly loses everything; a talented surgeon, who could not give the woman he loved all that she desired; a brothel’s madam; and a charming young woman adopted at birth. Why these seven? Why did they come to Bangkok now, at the same time? Do chance encounters truly exist? Bangkok Transit is a Central European best-seller. The author, Eva Fejos, a Hungarian writer and journalist, is a regular contributor to women’s magazines and is often herself a featured personality. Bangkok Transit was her first best-seller, which sold more than 100,000 copies and is still selling. Following the initial publication of this novel in 2008, she went on to write twelve other best-sellers, thus becoming a publishing phenomena in Hungary According to accounts given by her readers, the author’s books are “therapeutic journeys,” full of flesh and blood characters who never give up on their dreams. Many readers have been inspired to change the course of their own lives after reading her books. “Take your life into your own hands,” is one of the important messages the author wishes to convey. Try it for yourself, and let Eva Fejos whisk you off on one of her whirlwind journeys... that might lead deep into your own heart.
Miklós Bánffy - They Were Divided
The final part of Banffy's trilogy reflects the rapidly disintegrating course of events in Central Europe. In the foreground the lives of Balint, with his ultimately unhappy love for Adrienne, and his fatally flawed cousin, Laszlo Gyeroffy, who dies in poverty and neglect, are told with humour and a bitter-sweet nostalgia for a paradise lost through folly. The sinister and fast moving events in Montenegro, the Balkan wars, the apparent encirclement of Germany and Austria-Hungary by Britain, France and Russia, and finally the assassination of Franz Ferdinand all lead inexorably to the youth of Hungary marching off to their death and the dismemberment of their country.
Géza Gárdonyi - Eclipse of the Crescent Moon
The siege of Eger was an astonishing event. A small Hungarian Garrison commanded by István Dobó successfully resisted a huge Turkish army for nearly six weeks and forged it to retreat in disgrace. Dobó became a celebrated hero. But little is known of his explosives expert, Gergely Bornemissza, whose ingenious devices demoralized the Turks. It is his story that Géza Gárdonyi tells in Eclipse of the Crescent Moon, an exciting tale of chivalry and love, adventures and disasters, heroes and villains, culminating in the siege itself. Gárdonyi’s story, a convincing blend of history and fiction, has become a Hungarian literary classic and a firm favourite with adults and children alike.
A. O. Esther - The Tree of Life
The best-selling fantasy romance series from Hungary, now in English for the first time. The Tree of Life’s silky, snow-white trunk hides the secret passage between the three planes of existence: Heaven, Earth and Hell. Gabriel and Elijah must descend into the depths of hell, to Muspelheim, the Kingdom of Fire, to go in search of Sophiel who is trapped there. Gabriel and Elijah are forced to separate and face the torments of the underworld alone. Unexpected help arrives, but unfortunately it is too late for Gabriel. Ensnared by the devil’s slave Moro, he is taken to the castle of Arshamon and forced to make a deadly choice to save his comrades. But will his sacrifice be enough to save those who stray from the path?