Uncategorized

Boldizsár Fehér: Blind Monkey

Novel

feher_boldizsar_vak_majomTwo Nobel Prize winning scientists announce to the residents of a luxury hotel in Paris that in the next few days they will be taking part in an experiment. The story is told by a young man in his twenties, until recently Hungary’s richest person, but now on the run from the police. He tries to find refuge in the hotel where the curious experiment is taking place.

Blind Monkey tells the story of a young man who has effortlessly become the youngest Hungarian multimillionaire – a Hungarian Gatsby – but fails to live up to his responsibilities. His corporate empire collapses, and he finds himself in the middle of a corruption case. This finally shakes him out of his passivity and his conviction that provided he does not do anything, he cannot spoil anything either.

Though Boldizsár Fehér narrates this easy come, easy go story with lightness and humour, Blind Monkey tackles existential issues. Sitting in his Paris hotel, the narrator tries to make sense of more than just his own predicament: he reflects on the painful truth that although we are free to choose, the number of our possible choices is finite, and the decisions we take – as well as the decisions that are taken for us by others – gradually come to define our identity. Eventually he comes to understand that it is sheer laziness to blame others for our own unhappiness: we have no choice but to grow up. In the end, he accepts responsibility for the corruption, and will probably end up serving time in prison.

A witty and charming book, Boldizsár Fehér debut novel is an adventure story about responsibility and finding one’s place in the world.

“Here’s a tip for the evil people in this world: how to destroy someone’s life? The answer: give them everything they could have wanted.”

Product details
ISBN
978 963 14 3750 8
2018, paperback
125 x 197 mm

196 pages, 2999 HUF

Full English text available

Boldizsár Fehér

Uncategorized

ANITA HARAG: Rather Cool for the Time of the Year

Short stories

evszakhozReading Anita Harag’s stories is a bit like watching an episode from a series that has been going on for many months. Nothing special happens to her characters: they wake up, go to work, visit their relatives. But if we take a closer look, these simple gestures and chores reveal complex relationships and are suffused with pain, desire and loss. The stories are always open-ended: we get a glimpse into the life of the characters, then leave them where we found them. The narrators of her stories – young women in present-day Hungary – are full of anxiety nurtured by the traumas and memories of their parents and grandparents, as well as their own fear of the future. They may be lonely but they are never alone: they are always shown in their relationships with their family members, lovers, friends or colleagues – in fact, it is their loneliness that connects them to one another.

Harag’s characters often seem like strangers in their own stories. A Ukrainian girl feels excluded in the office because she doesn’t speak Hungarian and spends her time trying to guess what people around her are talking about. Alone with her thoughts, even though her husband is with her, a daughter cleans up her alcoholic father’s house after his death, and tries to come to terms with his legacy. A ‘good’ girl meets a ‘bad’ boy, and as time passes, the girl starts to see herself thorugh her boyfriend’s eyes, her inner monologue becoming tainted with the way he sees her. Many of the stories are about loss, or the fear of loss: the illness or death of parents or grandparents, the fear of loving a person or an animal and then losing them, or the fear of being diagnosed with cancer.

As Lajos Parti Nagy said about Anita Harag, she is capable of balancing between what is significant and what is insignificant, revealing the momentous in the banal and the tragic in the petty.

“My mother spends less and less time in the kitchen […] Neither my brother nor I help her out, we’ve got used to Mother not needing any help.  She can manage on her own, she’s been managing on her own for the last four years.  We sit and watch her managing.”

 

Product details
ISBN 978 963 14 3948 9
2019, paperback

136 pages, 2999 HUF

English excerpt available

Anita Harag