Author's page

Attila BALÁZS
( 1955 )

Biography

1955 November 5, born in Novi Sad.
1974-1979 attends University of Novi Sad, where he studies Hungarian language and literature. After graduating, he joins the editorial team of the journal Új Symposion.
1982-83 copy editor of Új Symposion.
1983-87 freelancer (unemployed).
1987-90 contributor to and later editor of Újvidéki Rádió (Hungarian language radio station in Novi Sad)
1990-91 editor of cultural programs at Újvidéki Tv (Novi Sad).
1991 settles in Budapest. For a short time, he is a war correspondent, reporting from the Croatian front, then covers international news for a daily newspaper.
1994 joins Hungarian Radio as literary editor.
1992 one of the founders and editors of the journal Ex Symposion.
Publishes both in Hungary and abroad.

Prizes:
1980 Ervin Sinkó Prize for best first novel in Voivodina [Cuniculus]
1999 Book of the Year
2007 Pro Literatura (short fiction category)
2009 Artisjus Literary Prize
2012 NKA Prize

The North for Some, the South for Others
2008

Attila Balázs' latest book, The North for Some, the South for Others, tempts the reader to get lost in its fictional landscapes. For the landscape brought to life in this postmodern epic is a South fictional enough as it is; turned into a novel, it becomes a reality outright invented. The South Country, as the Voivodina region is called in Hungary, used to be a Hungarian possession for almost a thousand years and has belonged to Serbia since World War I. It is organically connected to the culture of the Balkans and Central Europe, was a part of Tito's multicultural and dictatorial Yugoslavia, and survived the recent decades of ethnic wars. With its several plotlines and frequent jumps ahead and back, the subtly structured novel aims at no less than to write this region's fictionally real and, indeed, really fictional history. Besides history, it also evokes that characteristic, ironic, passionately bittersweet outlook on life which locals are known for and which keeps them alive. For they are all survivors, which the novel symbolically presents by offering multiple vantage points for reading each story, both front and reverse. This is not simply a reincarnation of the story, but also that of the narrators of whom there are several, each with a distinct character. The novel is suffused by the oral culture of folk poetry and legend, while also making masterful creative use of the full arsenal of postmodern fiction by a complex reflectiveness and narrative structure, by the thoughtful construction and emptying out of novelistic form, the evocative integration of borrowed texts and allusions, and frequent authorial comments and interactive textual play. The novel travels centuries in time while never moving in space. But this staying put is not equal to a fixed stillness. The author, who knows this region inside and out, keeps both reader and text in constant (textual) motion. The reader feels directly and personally addressed by the narrator (whoever happens to be speaking at the moment), yet at times her task resembles reading traces or gluing together the scraps of a map. The North for Some, the South for Others implies even in its title that everything is a matter of perspective. (Even perspective is a matter of perspective.) Attila Balázs' novel is like the region about and from which it speaks. Capricious, self-willed, irregular, at times multilingual, a place of its own. Archaic and modern at the same time. A true borderland. The work can be read both as a lyrically rich sociological reportage integrating historical source materials and elements of autobiography and as a postmodern novel laced with brilliant anecdotes that transforms the mental structure of a specific region into the sensual experience of a text.

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