Krisztián Grecsó, one of the most popular writers in Hungary, has written a beautiful novel. Vera takes place in the city of Szeged, in 1980, against the backdrop of the stuffy world of the final, weary decade of socialism with its overwhelming lies, corruption and nepotism.
Vera is an eleven-year-old girl, and her life seems perfectly secure: she excels at school and at horse riding, and has loving parents. But in a matter of weeks, her life
is turned upside down. One event leads to another in a chain reaction, too fast for Vera to understand them and her own reactions to them. How did her best friend become her greatest, sworn enemy? Why is it so exciting yet frightening to spend time with the new arrival, Józef, the rowdy Polish boy? And why do adults have secrets, sometimes dirty, shameful and painful ones, if they insist on Vera telling the truth?
In the course of these few boisterous weeks, Vera finds herself breaking rules despite herself—she plays truant, steals and lies. She learns that nobody around her is who she thought they were: she herself is an adopted child, her adoptive father’s parents died in the holocaust, and her best friend’s father is her adopted father’s brother—in a way.
Written with the rare warmth, sensitivity and empathy that have made Grecsó’s work such a favourite among readers, Vera traces the emotional, intellectual and physical development of a pre-adolescent, poised on the tightrope between childhood and adulthood. The reader will surely fall in love with Vera, a brave, intelligent and lovely child afflicted with feelings and with knowledge that arrived all too early in her life.
Besides Vera’s internal turmoil, the readers of this finely wrought novel will also get a glimpse into the pain of adults, attenuated by the fact that they are seen through the filter of a child. As we follow events through Vera’s consciousness, we gradually understand how little sense we adults can make of people and things, even though we cannot be as innocently honest and emotional about them as a child.
“One thing follows from another, like dominoes tumbling along in a straight line, with each step being innocent and unavoidable in itself.”
978 963 14 3829 1
2019, hard cover with jacket
336 pages, 125×197 mm
English excerpt available