Author's page

Biography

1923 born in Budapest
1945 works as a miner in Charleroy; later works in the Renault factory in Paris
1949 returns to Hungary
1955 becomes a free-lance writer

Major Prizes:
1963 Attila József Prize, 1975 Kossuth Prize, 1992 Lajos Nagy Prize

The Liar;Jolly Companions
1958;1966

Endre Fejes is the writer of Budapest's working class. His collections of short stories deal with the lives of young people working in factories on the outskirts of the city, drawing attention to the discrepancy between a consciously lived life and the monotony of an inhumane existence. In several of these short stories, Fejes reflects with cheerful idealism and nostalgia on his childhood in the 8th District, while not neglecting to show the difference between myth and reality. In the short story entitled "The Liar", nostalgia is still capable of transforming reality into the beautifully veiled realm of imagination. A later story, "Grin", however, shows how the bitterness of everyday life shatters the love between two young workers.

Junk Yard
1962

In this most famous and most important of Fejes's novels, social class shapes character. The book is the story of a family spanning more than fifty years. Although the Hábetler family succeeds in emerging from the servitude of their first generation, the members of the family are not conscious of their social position, and their actions are not individual decisions, but are determined by the family's excessive cohesiveness. The book begins with a murder. János Hábetler, Junior, kills his brother-in-law, Zentay, in the junkyard behind the factory. The novel investigates the incentive for the murder in order to understand what it was that triggered such an impulse, what it was that led to Hábetler's single, deadly blow. The reasons are, however, not easy to understand; the family's entire history must be examined, going back fifty years, beginning with the moment János Hábetler, Senior, returned from World War I. At the time of publication, the novel was subject to intense critical debate; Fejes's realistic stand, which lacked moral judgment of any kind, did not square with the expectations of the times.

Tales of Love Told During a Crazy Night
1975

This autobiographical novel is set in the turbulent years following World War II. It involves two young men who set out to seek their fortune, sneaking onto a transport of Jews attempting to immigrate to Palestine. A large portion of the novel takes place on freight trains and in camps. The two young men strive to control their own fates, but they are soon overpowered by their hopeless situation. The novel ends on a train near the French border; the main characters believe they have finally arrived to France. The plain truth, though, is just the opposite: the train is heading the other direction and carrying them back to Germany.

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