Described by critics as “the autobiography of Transylvania,” Gábor Vida’s novel tells the story of a Hungarian family in Transylvania at the end of the 20th century. Sad, bitter and ruthless yet written with gentle humor and empathy, The Story of a Stammer describes rural life in the Ceaușescu era, with its oppressive atmosphere, dictatorship and poverty, and the author’s own family, whose main virtue is decency and hard work. Vida writes with compelling honesty, breaking taboos that everyone knows about but no one ever says aloud. He charts the ways in which oppression and exploitation seep into family relationships, making education an abusive process. Particularly chilling are the narrator’s experiences in the eminently oppressive institutions of that society: the boarding school and the army. A chronicle of minority Hungarian life in rural Romania, Vida’s book is also a story of coming to terms with childhood-stammer, loneliness, and an unstimulating environment where religion, alcoholism and suicide are common escape strategies. Although the world he describes is sad and bleak, Vida’s lucid account is immensely enjoyable, and the novel also abounds in beautiful scenes describing the narrator’s love of nature and sport.
“In our family, work, family, studying, peace, love and unity come first. These things all come first. Nothing comes second in our family, not to talk about last, we don’t do things that could be considered as coming last.”
The autobiography of Transylvania
ISBN 978 963 1435 726
2017, hard cover with jacket
376 pages, 120×197 mm