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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

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Tibor Noé Kiss: Unfathomable Landscape

Novel

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

Tibor Noé Kiss

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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

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Iván Sándor: What the Wind Whispers

Novel

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

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Judit Szaniszló: The Life of Leli

Novel

Írók Boltja

Leli browses among family photos and sets about describing them. The result is a family novel, or rather, fragments of a family novel, composed of chunks of memory. As the family photos are detailed, the past, narrated in the present tense, comes alive, populated with grandmothers who worked as servants; parents who lived in concrete blocks of flats in Miskolc, in the north of Hungary; and the narrator’s brother, who was born with spina bifida and spent much of his childhood in hospitals. Parallel to these stories of the past, Leli’s present is narrated in the past tense. We learn how Leli, who is forty-two and has diabetes, struggles with trying to conceive a child.

The Life of Leli is a novel about learning to communicate with our family members and how that is ultimately impossible. It is about loving and crying, illness and health, yearning and acceptance, and the pains and routines of love, told with tenderness and empathy.

Every slice of buttered toast one drops is merely the continuation of something; every edge’s edginess is the centre of some greater whole. Things don’t end just when someone declares they are over. You don’t begin where your mother ends. Death gyrates like a humming top round everyone’s life, knocking things over as it spins.

Product details
ISBN 978 963 14 4003 4

2020, paperback
264 pages, 3499 HUF

English excerpt available

Judit Szaniszló