KRISZTINA TÓTH: The Monkey’s Eyes

Krisztina Tóth’s latest novel is set in a bleak city in the bleakest of times. The scene is an isolated country that has recently been through a devastating civil war. The new government rules with an iron hand and society is fatally divided: those close to the government live in the more affluent parts of the city, while the poor are confined to ghettos. Blackouts are frequent and there is a growing shortage of goods. There are no signs of disaffection, however, thanks to tight surveillance and trolling sponsored by the state.

This is the desolate world in which Giselle, a history professor at the unitary New University, and the renowned psychiatrist Dr Kreutzer happen upon each other. The latter appears at first to be a self-assured professional but he is gradually revealed as a sex addict who picks his victims from his pool of patients: it is their vulnerability that sexually excites him.

The novel’s main theme is abuse. It is set in a world where state power has an abusive relationship with its citizens and where abuse likewise pervades personal relationships. Krisztina Tóth dispenses the details a drop at a time. A society that initially appears to be relatively normal, and the professional who seems trustworthy, both turn out to be ­– slowly but surely – unmanageably abnormal.

The title alludes to an infamous and cruel animal experiment in 1970, when the neurosurgeon Robert White carried out the transplant of one monkey’s head onto the body of another. The monkey came to after the operation and horrific images of it can still be found on the internet. In these the creature can be seen opening its eyes for a moment, becoming conscious and aware of what has happened to it, only to later succumb to its fate.

The exceptional deftness of Krisztina Tóth is in plentiful evidence in this new novel. The excitement and the engaging nature of the action is framed by the author’s lyrical vision and her robust sense of humour.

Krisztina Tóth’s dystopia joins a long and distinguished tradition: like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, it offers a frightening vision of a future whose chances of coming true – remote though they may be – are firmly rooted in the immanence of our present and so cannot be dismissed out of hand as something that could never happen.” Ernő Balogh, Népszava.hu

Product details
ISBN 978 963 1429 0 15
2022, hard cover with jacket
352 pages, 123×30 mm
4499 HUF

Krisztina Tóth


Anna T. Szabó: Exercises in Escapology

Short Stories

Könyv: Szabadulógyakorlat (Szabó T. Anna)

This is a book of love and death: Anna T. Szabó’s third collection of short stories is concerned with the body and the soul, with yearning and infatuation, with joy and the lack of it, with the glorious yet terrifying forces that inhabit human beings, with how we yield to – or rein in – our desires. The forty stories almost all concern the lives and fates of women, from teenagers to the elderly.

The short stories’ protagonists inhabit widely differing milieus, social classes and periods, yet their problems are similar: passion appears to be draining away from their lives, their frustrated desires threaten now to explode, now to end in apathy or depressed resignation. What Anna T. Szabó is most interested in is the instinctual in the depths of our well-ordered lives: whether passion can be civilised, and whether it is possible – and worthwhile – to love in any way other than in an all-or-nothing fashion. In the volume the reverberations of fierce and otherworldly passions meld with the sounds of attempts at a rapprochement with sober, everyday life, with the alternation and altercation between the past and the present, between the actual and the impossible.

Several of the stories connect with specific works of music, whether rock, pop, or classical, and the very modulation of the stories, the way they, too, swell and die away, affect us as if we were listening to music. As well as music, another important leitmotif of the volume is the mystical: tales of witches.

Exercises in Escapology unearths mysteries about identity and relationships which – though we may not yet have formulated them explicitly – will be familiar to every reader.

Where lies the boundary between love and clinginess? At what point can one say that a relationship has turned abusive? What does it mean to be fulfilled? Can one ever regain the passion of one’s youth? Is it possible to come to terms with growing old? (Kinga Forgách, Könyves Magazin)

Product details
ISBN 978 963 1440 18 8
2020, hard cover with jacket

224 pages
3499 HUF

Anna T. Szabó


Tibor Noé Kiss: Unfathomable Landscape


Kiss Tibor Noé - Beláthatatlan táj

Following a car crash a young woman in her twenties falls into a coma. When he is not by her sickbed her father spends his time investigating the causes of the accident. On an estate near the motorway there live a brother and sister: though in adjacent rooms, they might as well be on two different continents. These four characters are the protagonists of the book and at the same time the story’s narrators. For all of them the accident turns out to be a life-changing event: finding themselves in a radically unfamiliar situation, the narrative of the lives that they have constructed for themselves is turned upside down and reordered.

Thus there are four narrators. The voice of Dorka, who is unconscious, is at first represented with intelligible sentences but these slowly disintegrate into phantoms, impressions, and fragments of consciousness, indicative of the fact that the young woman in a coma is coming ever closer to the end of her life. The voice of Dorka’s father, a divorced history teacher in his fifties, is characterised by suffering, self-reproach, and above all by burnout. The accident forces him to confront his own as well as his daughter’s past, and in so doing he finds an unexpected chance of a strange love affair.

As for the siblings living without their parents, the voice of the twenty-year-old young man is teeming with slang and vulgar language: he doesn’t go to school, he is not at work, and tries to make his aimless existence bearable through drugs and friends that even he finds intolerable. The fourth voice is that of his sister, the sensitive and introspective Zsófi, who has been left alone with her younger brother and thus obliged to grow up all too quickly.

Gradually light is shed on the dramatic and complex nature of this network of four characters. Dorka’s father meets and falls in love with the much younger Zsófi. Only at the very end of the novel do we discover that Zsófi’s job is to sit in front of CCTV screens, and that therefore she is very familiar with the circumstances of the car crash. She knows that it was Dorka who yanked the steering wheel aside to avoid three young men who dashed in front of her car. As she examines the footage, it dawns on Zsófi that one of them was her own brother.

This novel shows a clash between four characters, four different experiences of life, and two different social milieus, and although the lives of the actors become entangled, in reality they never meet, since the soundtrack in the head of each of them is quite different. The relationships between them may be a loving one, or that between parent and child, or brother and sister, yet in spite of this each remains in his or her own bubble, unable to take a step out of their individual consciousness, out of the landscape that the others find unfathomable.

People remain silent, just saying their piece, to themselves and by themselves.

Product details
ISBN 978 963 1440 18 8
2020, hard cover with jacket

320 pages, 125×197 mm
3699 HUF

English and German excerpts available

Tibor Noé Kiss


Noémi Kiss: Balaton

Short stories

Könyv: Balaton (Kiss Noémi)

A hot summer’s day in the 1980s by Lake Balaton. A little girl is being taught how to swim by her grandfather. When they get out of the water, they find a corpse among the reeds. Like in all of Noémi Kiss’s powerful stories about the Balaton, aka ‘the Hungarian sea’, the excitement of discovering new things mingles with the unsettling emotion of anxiety.

For several generations, in post-war Hungary Lake Balaton was an emblem of freedom, often of a fleeting and illusory kind. This was the place where many people spent their holidays – from the party elite, in luxurious party resorts, to poor people, in small shacks. It was also the place where German families torn apart by the Berlin Wall could meet. Noémi Kiss’s stories provide a glimpse into the life of all these people and into everyday life in Hungary in the decade before the regime change – a time full of tensions and expectations.

The Balaton disappeared along with the GDR. The storms of August swept away the characteristic smell of the fritters sold by the lakeside. The clouds, like white, frilly-edged paper napkins, sat stately above the waves. Everything was wild, and flesh-searingly fleeting.

Product details
ISBN 978 963 14 2571 0

2020, paperback
125 x 197 mm
144 pages, 2999 HUF

Rights sold
German, Europa Verlag

Noémi Kiss


Iván Sándor: What the Wind Whispers


In the summer of 2016 Z, a writer, sets off from Budapest to revisit places in Europe that were important scenes of his life, as well as of European history. He visits the refugee camp on Lesbos and views the rehearsal of a play on the Acropolis, he ambles along the River Seine, strolls through museums in Paris, and visits the battlefields of Normandy. In Vienna, he walks from the Heldenplatz to the Café Central, and returns to the house where he was born in the Zugló district of Budapest.

On these trips, he is accompanied by a variety of people: in Paris, his companion is a Hungarian-born musicologist; in Greece, a young stage film director; in Budapest, a passionate historian; and, everywhere and above all, Lil, his life’s companion.

Through his characters’ lives, Iván Sándor’s book encompasses the history of the twentieth century and beyond, up to our own times, reminding us how easily we forget. As major artists – painters, composers and writers – are evoked, artists who were driven by the desire to understand the world, we also get a glimpse of a life rich in experience and love.

A cultural and historical stroll through Europe, from the refugee camp on Lesbos to the museums of Paris

Product details
ISBN 978 963 14 3993 9

2020, paperback
160 pages, 2999 HUF