Author's page

Biography

1940 born in Zsennye
1964 graduates in Hungarian and Russian Literature and Linguistics from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest; script editor for the Hungarian Film Company
1968 arts lecturer at the Worker’s Home of the Csepel Works
1970 contributes to Ifjúkommunista (Young Communist)
1971 freelance writer
1976 columnist at the weekly Film, Színház, Muzsika (Film, Theatre, Music)
1990-present assistant editor-in-chief at Heti Magyarország (Weekly Hungary)
1991-95 editor-in-chief at Új Magyarország (New Hungary)
1995-present instructor at the College of Applied Arts, Budapest
2000-present editor for Életünk (Our Life), a regional literary magazine for western Hungary

His prizes include:
1985 Kalevala Memorial Award, 1995 Ferenc Deák Prize

My Horse, On Returning Home, Carries the Scent of a Flowery Meadow on its Hooves
1976

The appearance of László Fábián’s first novel marks a milestone in Hungarian literature, a bolt from the blue appearing at the forefront of what has since come to be known as ‘post-modern’ fiction. As a committed experimentalist and student of contemporary explorations of the limits of prose composition, his subsequent work has continued to epitomize innovative approaches to writing. The novel mirrors the pantheistic world of a highly sensitive child gradually maturing into an artist, who identifies with the great explorer, Roald Amundsen. “On his strings full of complex musicality, and with his multi-coloured palette, the writer does not simply tell us that there are no more ‘poles’ for the man of our time to discover. It is much more important to realize and to make others realize that the difficulty of our own task or devotion lies precisely in this Iron Age, surface, and in a sense, seeming greyness, in the hidden, the inconcrete and the intangible.” -Zoltán Pósa.

Strokehouse Winters
2002

The defining feature of László Fábián’s prose is his devotion to his birthplace, the unsung backwoods region on Hungary’s south-west frontier, and his efforts to salvage it in a high literature of almost anthropological authoritativeness. Most unusually for a modern Hungarian writer, for instance, he uses local dialect to lend idiomatic authenticity to the speakers in the pieces that make up his two cycles of stories about the tiny fictive Hamlet of Gutaház (Strokehouse). The names for objects, smells, plants, animals, seemingly forgotten masterpieces, games, rivulets, boundary ridges, meadows, the seasons that set the peasant way of life into a cosmic order—each and all of these are distinctive features of Fábián’s near-poetic prose. The book, just like its follow-up, Gutaházi nyarak (Strokehouse Summers), is complemented by Béla Szilárdi’s paintings, all inspired by Gutaháza.

1876, or The Hidden Man. A Novel About My Grandfather
2003

László Fábián’s grandfather—who he never knew or even heard much about—was born in 1876, the title of this, his most recent novel. It is also the year scratched in the belfry of his birthplace. “Reconstruction&” is the term that Fábián gives to the procedure by which he explores the history of this mysterious “hidden” man. Though the novel is filled with elements of a detective story—puzzling comments on birth, marriage and death certificates, oddities of the seemingly chance encounters are part and parcel of his investigative work—Fábián is really using this to investigate time and his own place in it. His own person is imbedded in Proustian fashion in the text, the layout of which provides the clues for uncovering its secret. An illegitimate child, the maternal grandfather shares the fate of other young men of the village, boxed-in as they are by rigid customs, yet still he is different. On his return from the hell of the front lines in the Great Warm he teeters on the brink of a mental breakdown, which leads him to be compulsorily incarcerated in the tool-shed of the village fire-brigade in order to prevent him doing harm to himself or his children. The novel pulls off the considerable feat of not degenerating into scandal-mongering while uncovering the facts of the grandfather’s tragic life and his parents’ furtive liaison; instead it allows these facts to remain within the internal affairs of a community and its archaic scheme, constrained as it is by a serious, strict and rational set of rules. This, along with the author’s philosophical commentaries, which point both forwards and backwards in their continual reflection on the progress of the text, enriches the story, making the book still more meaningful for its readers, living a century and more after the events it describes. “László Fábián’s novel is one of the highpoints of present-day Hungarian prose. He may not feature in the current literary canon, but this work will hold a firm place as a piece for repeated reading for those who, through interrogation of the past, seek to know themselves, that sense of space and time which persists in their gut feelings.” -Attila Szepesi, Magyar Nemzet

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