ANNA T. SZABÓ: Boundary

Short stories

szabo-t-hatar-okIf we want to know what will remain when we are gone, we first have to learn who we are. The stories of Boundary are all based on personal memories: whether their topic is the author’s childhood and adolescence in Cluj, Romania; her love and marriage in Budapest; or trips to Cairo, Malta or Tibet, they all investigate the boundaries of the individual, the joys and embarrassment of a woman facing her own story, as well as the history of the time and place she inhabits.

Balancing sense and sensibility, identification and distancing, freedom and helplessness, prose and poetry, Anna T. Szabó’s book is pushing the boundaries of effability. Travelling in space and time, encountering witches and angels, feeling the pain of intimacy and strangeness, the narrator always returns to her own hard-won, hard-to-pin-down identity. Some of the stories are of an anecdotal nature, others are flash fiction pieces about the body, about language, anger and pain, with a couple of stories in the end of the volume about the author’s aunt. These latter paint a tender picture of a spirited lady in communist Budapest who is trying to maintain the accoutrements of a middle-class life, and who dies poor and forlorn.

Anna T. Szabó, who has been known as an eminent lyrical poet since her debut in the 1990s, surprised her readers in her first prose volume, Crash Test, with her passion, wildness and anger. The stories of Boundary have the individual and the larger family (rather than the relationship between men and women) in their focus, and the narrator’s passion mingles with some sadness.

A book which tries to find a home in the world but leaves the window open to the sky

It was thirty years ago that we crossed the border; it was December. We packed up our entire life, made lists of everything, of the milk teeth and photographs we carefully kept in boxes, but at least we didn’t have to leave behind everything, as a container-load of furniture and stuff, pictures and books, came after us. What we didn’t manage to cram in, we lost all trace of. My childhood disappeared overnight. The journey by train remains a numbing void, a fog smelling of crows, a long, slow trundle into the unknown. I’ve no memory of it, except for the tang of giddiness, because crossing the border was like hurtling across a bridge spanning an abyss.”

Product details
ISBN 978 963 14 3682 2
2018, hard cover with jacket
200 pages, 123 × 184 mm
2999 HUF


Anna T. Szabó