Author's page

Attila BARTIS
( 1968 )

» The Walk (1995)
» The Bluish Haze (1998)
» Tranquility (2001)
» The Lazarus Apocrypha (2005)

Biography

1968 born in Marosvásárhely, Romania
1984 moved to Hungary with his family; now lives in Budapest as a writer and photographer
Attila Bartis was born in Marosvásárhely, Transylvania, on January 22, 1968. After his father, the well-known Transylvanian writer and editor Ferenc Bartis, was stripped of his Romanian citizenship and exiled, the family moved to Budapest in November of 1984. Bartis was trained at the Hungarian Journalists Association in 1990-1991. In addition to his literary activities, he is also a professional photographer, having taken part since 1996 in several photo exhibits with two large photograph series and other single photographs. He is married and the father of two children.

Prizes:
1997 Déry Tibor Award, 2002 Sándor Márai Prize, 2005 Attila József Prize, 2006 Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, Knight Cross, 2010 Ernő Szép Prize

The Walk
1995

Attila Bartis's first novel is a strange experience of surrealistic brutality and much-too realistic sadness in a declining world of helpless children and old people nearing death . It is narrated by a young woman who recalls her experiences as a child in sentences that send a shiver down the spine of the reader. In this sad yet beautiful world war and revolution are a constant threat, killing those that the narrator loves. The novel is full of memorable characters; the voice is humorous and serious at the same time, and sometimes the reader can not really decide whether to laugh or shudder with horror.

The Bluish Haze
1998

Transylvanian society has preserved many archaic features: ancient customs, and attitudes and human relations that can no longer be found elsewhere. Attila Bartis revives them with extraordinary intensity, trying "to write back to life" what has been lost or brutally suppressed. This rich tradition is reflected in this loose collection of short stories retelling old tales, family legends and the miraculous metamorphosis of certain object - the tone is sometimes in the best legacy of the absurd. The author is highly sensitive, writing with great precision and paying attention to the smallest details, yet escaping the pitfalls of ornamentalism. He manages to depict people who never gave up their identities, holding fast onto the remnants of their family history and gathering strength from their tradition in a dictatorial regime.

Tranquility
2001

The protagonist and first-person narrator of the novel is Andor Weér, who is himself a writer, living with his mother in Hungary in the 1970's and 80's. The mother had been a celebrated actress two decades earlier, but has become by the time covered by the story and the son is trying ever more frantically to free himself from her. The father had been a theatre critic but also a member of the feared ÁVH, the state security force during the Rákosi dictatorship of the years leading up to the 1956 Revolution, and had defected to the West in the wake of the Revolution. Weér's twin sister, had, also emigrated fifteen years before, which had resulted in the mother being denied further stage roles and prompted her to enact a symbolic burial of her daughter, since when she never again set foot outside the apartment. The sister subsequently took her own life, but the brother has been dispatching letters in her place to the mother, though she discovers deception and sends back empty sheets of paper by way of response. Weér writes stories that are edited by a woman who was once his father's lover and with whom he, in turn, regularly has sexual relations (as had almost been the case on one occasion with his mother). After a string of similarly shabby flings, the son meets the portentuously named Eszter Fehér ("White"), but even the love that grows between them fails to give him the strength to break free from his insane domestic servitude that can only lead to the tragic failure of the protagonist's love and the death of the mother. "It contains plenty of sex (i.e., pornography), lunacy, and just a touch of narcissism: definitely not recommended for prudes of a nervous disposition." (Péter Rácz)

The Lazarus Apocrypha
2005

Attila Bartis’ fourth volume, The Lazarus Apocrypha, differs in genre from the first three volumes which, however intricately structured and carefully composed, are characterized by literary spontaneity. It is made up of weekly pieces Bartis wrote throughout 2004 for the weekly Élet és Irodalom, as a regular feuilletonist in the prose section. This collection of ephemeral and focussed writings do not draw from the same sources of creative freedom that created his first three books. Despite Bartis’ recognizably unique style, these pieces fall, from time to time, into set patterns of work that shows another facet of a writer’s existence.

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