Oravecz’s novel tells the story of Steve Arvai, the son of Hungarian farmers who had emigrated to America around the turn of the 20th century. A native of California, Steve loses his job during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and decides to try his luck in Hungary, his parents’ old country. Though initially Steve’s American know-how and free spirit help him become a successful farmer in Hungary, with the passage of time, moving to the old country turns out to have been a mistake: though Steve’s farm manages to survive the hardships of the war economy of the 1940s, it is dealt a fatal blow by the communist regime that follows. The novel ends with Steve and his family crossing the Hungary-Austria border after the Russian invasion that followed the 1956 revolution.
The Ol’ Country is the concluding volume of Imre Oravecz’s monumental trilogy spanning one hundred years of Hungarian history. The trilogy records the story of a family, their everyday life, objects and activities, their hopes, ambitions, frustrations and loves, their language use and their silences. While in the first and second volume, Oravecz told the story of the emigration of Steve’s parents to America and their integration into American society, The Ol’ Country is the story of the son’s return to Szajla, his parents’ native village in north-eastern Hungary.
All the three parts of the trilogy can be read individually, as they do not require any previous knowledge. This is especially true of The Ol’ Country, a novel which maps a lost world with empathy, clarity and simplicity. Originally an avant-garde poet, Oravecz, who has moved back and forth between Hungary and the US several times in his life, has composed a startling realist trilogy about people moving back and forth between worlds as they work hard to find a home.
ISBN 978 963 1436 64 8
2018, hard cover with jacket
464 pages, 135 × 197 mm
Excerpt on hlo.hu
English excerpts available