Praised as one of the most important Hungarian books of the last decades, On Intimate Terms is the first volume by Edina Szvoren, the most compelling short story writer in Hungary today. These powerful and weird stories chart human relations with rare sensitivity. Szvoren maps out the themes of family traumas, the bleak holidays of childhood, the lack of a father, and loneliness in her own peculiar way. Each sentence by Szvoren creates a world that is unmistakeably hers. She writes about bodies, distances and alienation. Yet we read about souls, closeness and identity. This is what Szvoren’s great and authentic performance consists in. Her language is not unadorned yet it is lean. Her narrative optic changes perspectives from one moment to another. Extreme long shots turn into extreme closeups, to use film terminology.
Edina Szvoren’s prose is tragic and glorious in all its simplicity and ordinariness. In this narrative world both the setting and the characters are locked up; their every utterance and ever y move is determined. In her best sentences Edina Szvoren seems to make a physiological-mental X-ray image of her charac ters. She sees through their saturated emptiness. We cannot call this narrative attitude indifferent – this is a compassion that knows no mercy.
The great critic and editor Pál Réz has remarked about Szvoren’s talent that she “pays attention most of all to the humiliated and the insulted (whether it is herself or someone else). Szvoren, however, goes one step beyond the religion of compassion of the great Russians: she almost transforms human solidarity into eroticism… This is very original and very beautiful.” In spite of (or with) all their repulsiveness, bodies start to attract each other.
Edina Szvoren’s smothered, austere yet emotionally rich stories remind the reader of the taste of a bitter tablet, chewed rather than swallowed whole.
She writes about bodies, distances and alienation. Yet we read about souls, closeness and identity.
ISBN 978 963 1435 99 3
2017, hard cover with jacket
256 pages, 120×197 mm
English excerpts available