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Articles tagged "Hungarian Literature"

Magda Szabó’s “The Door”

                 Every person is a half-opened door                  leading to a room for everyone.                                    — Tomas Tranströmer I. Beloved in her native Hungary, Magda Szabó’s work is only just beginning to receive the attention it deserves among...

Writing from Hungary: An Introduction

I saw a movie the other day, Cold Souls by Sophie Barthes, in which I caught the following dialogue:  “I’m working on a play. 'Uncle Vanya.'”  “I . . . I know that play. It’s so Russian.”  Now I appreciate an admonition when I hear one, so if you’re interested in what makes contemporary Hungarian literature contemporary Hungarian literature, you will have to turn to someone else. All I can say is: it’s like this and...

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,...

From “El último Lobo”

There he was, laughing, but in trying to laugh in a more abandoned manner he had become preoccupied with the question of whether there was any difference at all between the burden of futility on the one hand and the burden of scorn on the other as well as with what he was laughing about anyway, because the subject was, uniquely, everything, arising from an everything that was everywhere, and, what was more, if indeed it was everything, arising out of everywhere, it would be difficult enough...

Haul

Zeus edged the bus in among the pines. No sooner did he turn off the engine than he heard the animals yapping and growling behind the canvas tarp stretched tight across the cage behind him. Taking a kick at the iron grille, he snapped, "Shut up, you rotten sons of bitches." But his words were meant not so much for the animals, which couldn't have possibly kept still, anyway, hungry and pumped up with amphetamines as they were, but more so to finally rouse his clients. They'd been...

The Jungle

It was dark like the inside of a piano, the twanging of the instrument filled your eyes, I said you looked through octaves. The sound is made in the closed coffin, it comes to life in the depth of the grave. I never said, please, look somewhere else, the piano twanged, swelling on me, the promise dissolved my all. Now the dark— if it's good for the wood, why not for me? They say the sun, before stepping into the sky, dwells in the jungle, gathers darkness, so I do...
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