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Éva BÁNKI
( 1966 )

» Raintown (2004)
» Golden Embroidery (2005)

Biography

Éva Bánki was born in the south-western Hungarian town of Nagykanizsa in 1966. Since graduating from the Arts faculty at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, she has become a university lecturer, teaching world literature, with medieval poetry and Portuguese literature her specialist interests. Her poetry has appeared in various magazines.

2004 Szépirodalmi Figyelő Prize

WORKS PRESENTED
2005 Golden Embroidery

Raintown
2004

This novel is based on the intertwined histories and fates of two well-off peasant families, the Tormas and the Bujdosós, whose home are on the long, narrow island which lies between the main Danube and its Little Danube branch just east of Bratislava, known as the Csallóköz in Hungarian (Velk´y ¥itny Ostrov in Slovak, Grosse Schütt in German it was an integral part of Hungary until ceded to the new Czechoslovakian state under the provisions of the Treaty of Trianon following the First World War and is now part of independent Slovakia). Over successive generations, the two families remain closely linked by recurrent intermarriage, their respective members coming together time after time despite misfortunes and prohibitions. The scions of the Torma family show an abiding interest in technology, technical innovations and machines in general, which becomes a source of various accidents. The Bujdosó family, by contrast, are strongly drawn to the spirit world, mysticism connected with the dead spiritualism which gives rise to problems of a different kind. The passions of these two families are finally reconciled in the present day with the advent of the Internet world. The setting of these stories in Csallóköz provides a distinctive take on Hungarian history over the course of the 20th century, with characters either crossing borders to venture out into the wider world, or else being overtaken by the redrawing of borders. The small town of Dunaszerdahely (or Dunajská Streda) the locality that the narrator and main protagonist of the novel refers to as Rain Town is a locus in this saga; it stands for the peasants yearning never realised to join the ranks of the genteel provincial bourgeoisie. Banki opts for a kind of role-playing. Her narrator is a man, Imre Torma, a struggling journalist with ambitions to be a serious writer that are not fulfilled; a sardonic (and very male) sense of humour pervades the work. Some passages of the novel acquire a documentary power, with historical and ethnographic aspects that seem authentic in every detail, whilst other passages conjure up a fantastic, dream-like, mystic domain, prompting some critics to liken Bánki s approach to the magic realism of Gabriel García Márquez. The reader is enchanted by the wealth of astutely observed details and the capricious flights of imagination that, so to speak, hover around it. - István Margócsy, Élet és Irodalom This is a very purposefully crafted novel a true masterpiece. - Noémi Kiss, Litera

Golden Embroidery
2005

2005 Golden Embroidery 2005 Aranyhímzés „The second book by Éva Bánki belongs to the great tradition, the possibly most well-known representatives of which are Umberto Eco in the contemporary and Antal Szerb in the Hungarian literature. We might label the genre as ’literary novel’, would not it sound somewhat disdainful, though it definitely should not. It only means that an author well educated in arts, history and literature makes use of his or her professional knowledge while writing fiction. Golden Embroidery (2005, Aranyhímzés) is an excellent postmodern novel of its genre embedded into the context of European cultural history, posing questions about language and culture with a proper sense of proportion.” (Keresztesi József) Golden Embroidery (2005, Aranyhímzés) is a historical novel rich in scientifically appropriate details and a postmodern work as well since its central problem is the authenticity of writing itself. The author leads us back to the era of the establishement of Hungary. The old Bishop Anasztáz, or Sebe by his former pagan name, travels as the delegate of the young Hungarian Kingdom to Venice. His task is to explore the life story of the deceased Bishop Gellért and record it in a legend necessary for Gellért’s canonization as a saint. While trying to solve a murder mystery and to select from the possible identities and biographical versions of the young Gellért offered in Venice, Sebe needs to realize that he cannot objectively reconstruct the biography. Instead, he has no other option but the arbitrary and subjective construction of the story. Metaphysics and politics, historical novel and exciting detective story, the spirit of the middle ages and postmodern questions mingle in the book. Due to Bánki’s elegant handling of the complex plot and her skills in creating medieval atmosphere, the theoretical issues do not overload but smoothly enrichen the text of a thought-provoking, interesting novel.

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