Author's page

Krisztián GRECSÓ
( 1976 )

» Blabbermother (2001)
» Long Time No See (2005)
» Dance School (2008)

Biography

1976 born in Szegvár, in southern Hungary
1994-99 studies at Attila József University, Pécs
2000 editor of Bárka; columnist at the daily Délmagyarország; regularly writes for the cultural net magazine www.terasz.hu; belongs to the board of The Young Hungarian Authors Attila József Circle

His prizes include:
1996 Attila Gérecz Prize (for the best first book of the year); 1998 Soros Foundation's Scholarship, report category, Zsigmond Móricz Scholarship; 2000 Szeged City Scholarship, National Cultural Program Scholarship; 2001 Pro Szeged Foundation Scholarship, 2002 Sándor Bródy Prize (for the best first book of fiction of the year); 2002 István Örkény prize, Faludy prize, 2004 Tibor Déry Prize, 2006 Attila József Prize

Blabbermother
2001

In twelve stories presenting modern village life, sometimes with descriptions of sociographic precision, Grecsó avoids equally the traps of old-fashioned and empty anecdotizing, and dry documentation. The protagonists of these stories chatter away uninhibitedly, speak their own minds in a full-bodied, witty and quirky language, an entertaining, supple and telling prose. The characters are continually on the track of something or other, seeking to get to the bottom of things, whether it be a mysterious death and life-and-death matters in general, or mere tittle-tattle and dreams. The best story is perhaps I, András Schriwanek in which Uncle Schriwanek reflects first on the meaning of life, then on the male-female principle present in all things excepting dread, which he is unable to associate with either principle. The factor that binds all the stories together is the genre of gossip implied by the title. Elements that can be verifiable rub cheek to cheek with those that are unverifiable; hearsay and news in the papers, local affairs and national politics, historical facts and legends are accorded equal weight. The tone is somewhat in the Czech tradition, reminding one of the likes of a Hrabal.

Long Time No See
2005

319 pages Grecsó's first volume of extended fiction is a coming-of-age novel, a singular detective story which brings to life a series of incidents in a village on the Great Hungarian Plain. The village, 'Sáraság', is modelled on the author's birthplace of Szegvár, while the protagonist, Gergely Gáller, is endowed with some autobiographical features. The novel traces his life from childhood to his twenty-third birthday in 1990. An orphan, Gergely must leave the village as a young boy to pursue his studies; partly as a result, a children's circle called the Ede Klein Club breaks up. He returns as an adult to get to the roots of his origins, making inquiries into both his own and the village's past, and begins to suspect that Ede Klein, the man after whom the children's circle was named, and who was expelled from the village in 1948 as the subject of a blood libel, may have been his father. (In fact, there was a case of blood libel in Szegvár in 1948.) In the end, this does not prove to be the case. One document holds particular significance to the villagers: the mysterious Klein diaries, written by Klein to Aunt Panni (who, again, may be Gergely's mother). Nothing certain is known about them, but this does stop - in fact it encourages - the villagers from reading all sorts of things into them. Mystical matters indeed play a major role in the novel, with the story being interwoven time after time with the villagers' strange system of beliefs, the roots of which can be traced to an unusual religiosity, to pagan superstitions and frequent drunkenness. Miracles and incredible events are everyday occurrences: a man who has been found by doctors to be sterile fathers three children, with one of the children coming into the world with the shade of his grandfather. A firecracker goes off in a girl's mouth, leaving her disfigured, but that, of all things, leads to a young man to love in love and marry her. There are countless marvellous sub-plots about these peculiar village-dwellers, at once tragic and comic; their fates give us insight into the realities of rural society in Hungary in the not-so-distant past. One of the outstanding sub-plots concerns the Beregi family, who are informed of the death of family patriarch, who had moved to Budapest, with the death notice stating that the funeral will take place in two weeks' time. The family reckons that can not be true, as in Sáraság burials must be performed within three days. Obviously, the Budapesters are seeking to do them out of the inheritance, they reason, and so they take the first train to the capital, which they have never seen in their lives and where they become entangled in all sorts of unlikely adventures. One particular strength of the novel is the stimulating erotic feel with which the stories of adolescence are embellished. The reader also gains an unusual perspective on the fate of Hungary's provincial Jewish community - a fate that often entailed leaving the native land, even in cases where the individuals had returned from the death camps of the Second World War. It is because Gergely discerns his own fate as consisting of this that he tries to obtain the facts about his own birth. With its lively, compelling style, the novel makes marvellous use of the vernacular. Few novels are so memorable that favourite scenes in them are recalled over and over again, but this is one such novel. Its characters and descriptions are very much alive, with the strange village world conjured up before our eyes. "His wandering motifs and his marvellous versions, cast in his own personal 'Grecsó idiom' of the everyday miracles that are familiar from the works of magic realist authors, raise the author to the forefront of younger fiction writers in Hungary." -József Tamás Reményi, Népszabadság "The novel of a generation's coming-of-age, a fin-de-siècle tableau and an encyclopaedia of hate. A pseudo-romantic hunt for myths allied to post-modern irony." -Anna Benedek, litera.hu

Dance School
2008

There are times in Krisztián Grecsó’s novelistic world when even the goulash has a soul as the hero of the tale sits down to discourse with the Devil in a shady bower. Three years ago, we saw the appearance of Isten hozott. (Long Time No See, published in German translation as Lange micht gesehen) his first foray into extended fiction: a coming-of-age novel dressed up as detective story in a setting that was modelled on a mythological yet very real village in the southern Great Hungarian Plain. The locale of Dance School is a small town in the same region that is both modern-day and timeless, fixed its mundane reality between the proximity of the rural and metropolitan expansiveness. The protagonist is a Dr József Voith (Dr Jokó as he is referred to at one point), who, having just graduated in law from the University of Szeged arrives in Slovaktown in none-too-eager anticipation of commencing his career with a local solicitor’s firm. He has a place to live there with his eccentric uncle, Lajos Szalma (“Straw”), who teaches biology and physical education at a local school. He becomes acquainted with his uncle’s circle of friends, male and female, and with his weekend cottage where he is able to take big trips with speed and other amphetamine-based drugs and come face to face now with the Devil himself, now with his own self as a separate person, so to speak. A devil of a fellow, one might say. His worries are eased, his whole character changes. Jokó strings several women along at once, though none of the relationships can be truly committed or untroubled. By the end of the novel, after Slovaktown adventures, startling discoveries and the small-town tragedies that play out there, Jokó is forced to a realisation that he has come of age and must take steps. He starts to do so on Christmas Eve, but those steps are the ones referred to in the title of the novel: dance steps. As to who he takes them with, and whither—let that remain a secret. As it is, in dance schools one needs to kick off from the stove. Grecsó knows on which side of which streets passers-by are strolling. In his latest novel, he employs a sort of magic naturalism to relate his intricate, eventful story.

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