GÁBOR VIDA: Where His Soul Is

Vida Gábor - Ahol az ő lelkeIt is 1914, and World War I is just about to break out. Former army officer Sándor Werner decides to leave for the New World to make his fortune. He is planning to take his son Lukács with him, but at the last moment Lukács decides to stay, eventually ending up in Africa where he spends the war years. Father and son meet up again in 1919, both of them poor and disillusioned, in their home town of Kolozsvár, now occupied by the Romanian army. They must both go into hiding – the father because he has a secret mission, the son because he avoided conscription.

What was it like, the world that father and son left, and does it resemble the new world they have returned to? What happened to the women while the men were fighting or in hiding? And why doesn’t the statue of the great Hungarian king step down from its pedestal to intervene in the course of history when the living are helpless, or mess up everything?

Gábor Vida’s novel maps the forgotten or silenced history of Transylvania in the wars before and after the Treaty of Trianon, signed a century ago.

The forgotten history of Transylvania in the wars before and after World War I

Product details
ISBN 978 963 1439 00 7
2019 (2nd edition), hard cover with jacket
288 pages
3699 HUF

Rights sold
Romanian, Institutul Cultural Roman

Gábor Vida




Short stories

Bodor Ádám - SeholÁdám Bodor’s long-awaited new volume comprises seven short stories. The ‘nowhere’ of the title is a place familiar from Bodor’s previous works: the peripheries of Eastern Europe, a land characterized by oppression, misery and absurdity on the one hand, and a kind of fairy-tale magic, strange and powerful emotional ties and natural beauty on the other.

The time of these stories is impossible to determine, except for the first, “The Marmots of the Matterhorn.” In this story, the narrator – a scientist – is tempted to ask for his files from the archives of the communist secret services, but eventually backs out, and returns to his research on marmots, those shy and elusive animals. The only other story where the realia of the modern world appear to some degree is the concluding one, “Rebi”, in which the narrator relentlessly asks about the fate his wife, who disappeared the previous night when she went out to bring back their goats, which had suddenly escaped. Worried for his wife, with whom he seems to be in a love-hate relationship, the narrator appears unaware of the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb or the panic of his neighbours.

All the other stories take place in a world well-known from Bodor’s novels. “Paraskiva” is about the mysterious death of the narrator’s stepmother, spiked with chilling and hilarious detail in equal measure. In “Hekk,” four people live and work on top of a hill, overseen by their rich Arab boss, who orders them to give shelter to the eponymous criminal. They obey, willy-nilly, only to witness his horrific death. In “Leordina” a young couple try their luck at trading in hair, while in “Pitvarsk” the narrator tries to cope with the news that his ex-girlfriend, who left him six months earlier for an army officer, has died. In “Milu” inmates in a prison cut the hair of a new inmate, who dies as a result.

The stories in Nowhere are hallucinatory stories about love and death, told with a grotesque humour akin to the ‘dirty realism’ of Cormac McCarthy. Every one of these stories has its own inner logic and emanates a kind of wild freedom, in spite of the horrific nature of the events recounted.

Hallucinatory stories about love and death

Product details
ISBN 978 963 14 3857 4
2019, hard cover with jacket

156 pages, 3499 HUF

English excerpt available

Ádám Bodor

Rights sold
French, Cambourakis


ÁDÁM BODOR: The Smell of Prison

Bodor Ádám - A börtön szaga - Válaszok Balla Zsófia kérdéseireIn 1950, Ádám Bodor was a teenager in communist Romania where he and some of his schoolmates founded an anti-communist league in the city of Cluj, and distributed leaflets calling for the overthrow of the regime. They were soon arrested and served two years in prison between 1952 and 1954. Bodor, who moved to Budapest in the 1980s, recounted his prison experiences in 2001 in a radio interview with poet Zsófia Balla, a fellow Transylvanian Hungarian from Cluj also living in Budapest. The Smell of Prison was born out of that interview. In the course of telling his life-story, Bodor paints a vivid picture of Romania in the sinister decades between the 1950s and the 1970s, as well as of Hungary, the ’happiest barracks’ in the Eastern camp, in the 1980s.

Bodor, whose prose is extremely dense and sparse, and who has always stressed that his works are wholly fictional, turns out to be an excellent storyteller when recounting his own experiences. Although he talks about the broader social and historical context with rare insight and intelligence, what makes this volume especially memorable are the stories and anecdotes told by someone who managed to preserve his integrity and a degree of freedom in a totalitarian regime.

Few authors have talked about their prison experiences as candidly as does Bodor in The Smell of Prison, without any attempt at heroics. While Bodor provides a chilling account of the notorious prison of Gherla, this is more than outweighed by the vitality and optimism springing from the prisoner’s tender age.

The Smell of Prison is compulsory reading for anyone wanting to understand how it is possible to survive an oppressive regime and grow into a major writer with a radically modern capability for world-building that transcends political dimensions.

“My height was five foot eight at the time of my arrest… when I was released, I was six feet tall, which is still my height. I grew four inches in jail.”

Product details
ISBN 978 963 1438 581 5
2019 (3rd edition), hard cover with jacket

196 pages, 3499 HUF

Substantial English excerpts published in The Hungarian Quarterly, No. 165 (Spring 2002), pp. 3–26 and No. 166 (Summer 2002), pp. 19–37.

Ádám Bodor


PÁL ZÁVADA: Adrift in the Fog

Závada Pál - Hajó a ködben - ÜKH 2019Závada’s new novel focuses on a legendary family at a dramatic moment in history. It is spring 1944, Hitler’s army has just invaded Hungary, and the inheritors of the Manfréd Weiss Works are weighing their chances of survival. The family, owners of the biggest steelworks and munitions factories in Hungary (and one of the biggest in Europe) are well-known figures in the economic, political and social life of Budapest. In the first half of the novel we learn much about their opulent lifestyle as well as their heartaches and desires. However, as most of them are of Jewish origin, their story soon turns into an astonishing and controversial saga of survival as Ferenc Chorin, the head of the family of magnates, decides to accept the offer of SS Obersturmbannführer Kurt Becher to trade their wealth for the lives of their family.

Is it right to make a pact with the devil if your life is at stake? Are any of the dilemmas that arise in this predicament – collaboration, high treason, the betrayal of hundreds of thousands of fellow sufferers – at issue here? Without passing judgement on his characters, the real-life as well as fictitious members of the family, Závada shows how they deal with these questions, each in their own particular way.


Product details
ISBN 978 963 1438 55 0
2019, hard cover with jacket
420 pages, 4299 HUF

English excerpt available

A wealthy Jewish family serving the German aircraft industry


Pál Závada


LÁSZLÓ KOLLÁR-KLEMENCZ: The Life of Plastic Garden Chairs

Nature writing

Kollár-Klemencz László - A műanyag kerti székek életeLászló Kollár-Klemencz’s stories are about meetings between humans and nature. The protagonist of this volume, written in minimalistic prose bearing the mark of Raymond Carver’s stories, is the forest: not as a symbol but as a strong, sometimes threatening, sometimes alluring presence. And the plastic garden chairs of the title: trite, prosaic and shabby props of modern life.

Kollár-Klemencz writes about trivial situations: fathers in pursuit of stags in the forest, a driver and his passengers in a van, a sick mother and the night-shift nurse,the act of jumping into water and preparing sheepskin, a statue unveiling ceremony on the beach, the burial of a billygoat, or two men sitting under a cherry tree on white plastic chairs.

Reading these stories, we feel as if we were following footmarks of some strange creature in the forest. Searching for freedom and security, adventures and challenges, answers and oblivion, the characters in these stories are unknown yet all too familiar for the reader. They have secrets, and their silence speaks volumes. Balladistic narratives, poetic visions and absurd stories alternate in this book, which also has an autobiographical thread: the inner journey of a fifty-year-old man who moves to the countryside and learns to live with himself and his environment.

Encounters between man and nature

Product details
ISBN 978 963 1437 54 6
2018, hard cover with jacket
160 pages, 125×197 mm
2999 HUF

English and German excerpts available

László Kollár-Klemencz