Author's page

Lajos GRENDEL
( 1948 )

Biography

1948 born in Léva (at the time Levice, Czechoslovakia)
1968-1973 studies Hungarian and English at the University of Bratislava
1973-1990 editor at Madách Publishing House
1990 member of parliament as a representative of the Hungarian minority
1990-1992 chief editor of the literary journal Irodalmi Szemle
1991 founding editor of the now prestigious Kalligram Publishing House
1992 founding editor and editor-in-chief of the journal Kalligram
1994 director of Kalligram Publishing


Major prizes include
1982 Imre Madách Prize; 1986 Prize of the Slovakian Writers' Union; 1987 Book of the Year Prize; 1989 Tibor Déry Prize; 1989 Artist of Merit; 1990 Attila József Prize; 1990 Prize of the Slovakian Writers' Associations; 1995 Milán Füst Prize; 1996 Endre Ady Prize; 1999 Kossuth Prize

Unfaithful Ones
1979

Grendel wanted to be a mathematician, but when he lost his beloved father at the age of 16, he realised that the world was not as rational and calculable as he had thought. In his first book of short stories, he deals mostly with the world of his youth, and, as stated in an interview, “Every incident is multi-faced, every deed ambivalent, every value double-faced . . . there is nothing you can point at that is moral or immoral from the beginning of time, nothing is purely good or bad. Everything is determined by the situation. The concrete, never-to-be-repeated situation. Man is always in a given situation, stepping from one situation to another. One single question has always possessed me: the opportunities of free, autonomous action. Here, now, as a Hungarian of Slovakia.”

Sharpshooting
1981

In order to understand the present and weigh the possibilities of the future, Lajos Grendel’s first novel turns to the past, to the generation of his forefathers, analyzing historical situations. Grendel notes, “You can take responsibility for the past or you can refuse it loudly and cast it off. There’s only one thing you can’t do: avoid it. The reason for this is that the past is coded into our reflexes, into our subconscious. What does the past mean to me? A burden. The fact that I am not only a Hungarian, but one living in minority, means to me that I have to shoulder—we, all six hundred thousand of us, have to shoulder—the past, looking at it with a critical eye, but accepting its continuity both in a legal and in a spiritual sense.”

Absurdistan, My Homeland
1998

His collected essays and articles show Lajos Grendel to be an important thinker and spiritual leader in the political life of the Hungarian community in Slovakia. This volume searches for solutions and methods for Slovaks and Hungarians, fatherlands and minorities, to co-exist, in place of delirious emotions and ultra-nationalistic illusion. In a major essay from 1990, Grendel wrote, “One and half, two years ago the western press called Czechoslovakia Absurdistan. I am certain that this term could be used for the entire region east of the Oder and Leitha. Our lives are spent in confusion of values and consciousness, in confusion of our national identity, unprecedented economic chaos and bankruptcy—definitely not monotonously. The writers of Central and Eastern Europe have a chance now to find Absurdistan—as Musil found Kakan—and its truest literary styles, language and genre.”

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