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Articles tagged "Hungarian"

Lou’s Last Letter to Feri’s Wife

See here Christine, don’t you give me that crap alright? Don’t go telling me what you told me Christine, ‘cause I’m not buying it, the thing about Feri going to T-Mobile and having them tap the voice mail on your cell phone. Don’t give me that. Feri’s not like that, alright? Feri’s got a head, but he ain’t got no fuckin’ brains to go with it. He’d have never thought of it and I’m not buying it. That, what was it, that...

Slow Freight

Are we poor, Dad? Yes, Son, we’re poor. Not very. But poor enough. Why are we poor, Dad? I don’t know. Become somebody took it? Took what? I don’t know. Tibi Kárász said we’re so poor, at our house the mice die of hunger pangs. Tibi Kárász doesn’t know shit. He also said I’m so scrawny, when I blink, the skin slides off my glans. Tell Tibi Kárász I’m gonna kick his ass. And I’m...

Oh, Those Chubby Genes

Three homeless citizens were sitting on Budapest’s Liberty Square, watching television. By the corner of the American Embassy, policemen with automatics were shuffling in place, as always, blowing into the plastic coffee cups held up to their lips and looking at the sky, the Good Lord’s grainy, melancholy TV monitor. The phenomenon was first spotted at 9:30 by Corporal Henrietta Kis who, for reasons of her own this time, glanced into the bomb-surveillance mirror and was glad...

from “Gypsy Mandalas”

10th Mandala I realized early on inside my mother’s belly that I’d be born a Gypsy. The realization made me drown at least twice in the embryonic fluid, but then I decided to resurrect myself. After all, being a Gypsy can’t be any worse than the state of the world itself. I’ll muddle through it somehow, just like all the other Gypsies.   14th Mandala While my father was taking an extension course in jail—due partly to having beaten up one of the...

The China Doll

The stranger looked familiar. He might have come from Dorog, or possibly the county seat. István Jósvai said his name was Csurmándi. Csurmándi was a bundle of energy and self-confidence. His dark eyes gleamed above wide cheekbones. The locks of hair falling over his forehead were like the wings of a bird about to take to flight. His hunched shoulders too suggested staunch determination. You could tell  that he was supporting walls on his swarthy shoulders,...

from “Communist Monte Cristo”

Question:  “In 1956, who awaited Father Christmas most eagerly?” Answer:  “Comrade Stalin. He already put his boots out in October.” Budapest joke, 1956   The state police came for Great Granddad only in April, and just when he’d made such a nice adjustment to the people’s republic and its tattered legitimacy! He rose at five, went to work by six, didn’t shoot his mouth off, and didn’t read the papers. His lifestyle...

Blessed Margaret

Translator’s Note: Daughter of King Béla of Hungary and his wife Maria Laskaris, Princess Margaret (1242–70) was pledged to the Church by her father if the country survived the Mongolian invasion. Margaret entered a Dominican convent at the age of three, and at the age of ten entered a convent on the island on the Danube between Pest-Buda that now bears her name. Here she was soon revered for her humility, renunciation, and good works, which later became the stuff of...

The Toad Prince

I am standing in front of the mirror, afraid that I am bad. I am ugly because I am bad. I am a toad because the wicked witch has cast a spell on me. That’s why my head is like a toad. Jewish. Squash it! There are clean people: peasants, Germans, soldiers. They wear boots so they won’t touch a toad. They will squash me with their boots. Even the girls. The little princesses will turn me away in neat succession. I am not a human being. What a malheur. They won’t...

Kornél Esti’s Bicycle Or: The Structure Of The World

As a rule, Esti looked up to his father as he did to God, but when he bought him that certain bicycle, that clinched it. The way an atheist looks up to God. Easily gliding similes never give the fate (or destiny? or is that the same?) of the world a satisfactory design, for there are atheists by the dozen, martial-like, resigned, terrified, curious, just like God, who is martial-like, resigned, terrified, curious. Possibly, God should be written with a small g here, but the truth,...

Esterházy Per Se: A Translator’s Ball Game with a Postmodern Author

Just as there are user-friendly computers (they don't delete your latest text when you didn't mean to press the delete button, a dream!), user-friendly ovens (they ring when the roast is ready), and user-friendly scissors (left-handed!), so there are translator-friendly authors. And then, again, not. Some authors thumb their noses at the difficulties they are creating for the translator, and they are right to do so; their job is to write, the translator's is to translate. And...

An Interview with Péter Esterházy

Péter Esterházy is one of Hungary's foremost contemporary novelists, having won literary distinctions both at home and abroad. A number of his works, including Helping Verbs of the Heart, The Book of Hrabal, She Loves Me, and A Little Hungarian Pornography have all been translated into English. In this interview, we speak about some of the predominant themes in Esterházy's literature, particularly family and language. Esterházy hails from a long line...

Tired Theseus

You took down the pale blue garbage bag with yogurt caps, banana skins, colors like tired oil. So much remains after us by the morning, a streak of dust on the bathtub, lipstick on the tiles, your gaze lined with scale. With dull, used-up kindness you rest your hand in mine. The memory too ferments, the time in common, like cider does— I always wake up to the smell of something sour. Perhaps the carpets. So many patterns in them, to follow those—to roam about with...

Crystal-Study

Your neckline, like a glacier among the ice-slopes of your skin, displays that it's cold under the surface. Often you look at me. I don't mind. A waning moon is your soul, the sickle thinning until new moon. Some women, I'm saying this offstage, have between their fingers a web of ice, these are watery creatures. Now tell me, when I get home would you help me off with my coat, putting on the rack whatever can be stuffed on a hanger of a day, saying perhaps, I...

Aqua Fortis

You don't deserve the Light. Something after the explosion of the cells arranged for you to bequeath dark water, the quicksilver of life. Life has been lived for you, your merit is limited to words. Everywhere, though, example and serenity you are, reliable. As if a sky could rely on a star, as if one should decide where his eyes are put. I started as one who grazes the lilies, with a seal on the heart, in my hand a hand that is not to be mine, the cold was watching me...

For the Voice of the Psalms

Hide me in the shadow of your wings, not to be seen in flight, when I would fly with you, not for the eyes is the wing, the eye breaks off the dove- feather on the upstretched muscles. Dirty guano is all the flutter on the square where tires drive away my jostling shame from the morsels, for so much I long for you, with a split head, with stupid dovelike motion, to be saved. A bird's wing smeared on stone, the flesh is a road to you, if it is, or isn't, at the end, and...
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