Author's page

Biography

1925 born in Budapest
1943 finishes secondary school
1944 taken to prison camp in Bor (Yugoslavia); freed by underground movement
1944-1951 goes to Palestine, fights in army
1951 returns to Hungary
1997 dies in Budapest

Main prizes include
1978 Attila József Prize, 1984 Tibor Déry Prize, 1992 Golden Pen Prize, 1997 Márai Prize

Seven Days with Avram Bogatir
1968

With the publication of his first novel, György G. Kardos was immediately recognised as one of the most important Hungarian novelists, and the book, which was the first part of a trilogy, became a great success of the period. The novel is set in Palestine in 1947 and describes a week in the life of Avram Bogatir, a middle-aged Jewish settler, who came to Palestine sometime during the twenties. Avram is originally from Russia, a Communist who does not believe in violence, but nevertheless decides to give shelter to David, a young terrorist on the run fighting against the British forces. The relationship between David and Avram exposes a duality which is typical of Kardos' novels. "György Kardos' writing is about the contrast of two systems of thought. The first one is defined by powerful words, slogans such as "the creation of a nation", "national interest" and "historical mission" - charismatic concepts which have been utilised by almost all aggressive conquests and wars ever since the creation of European national states. The second lacks such big words; it is constructed by the basic facts of everyday life: work, friendship, love . . ." (Béla Pomogáts) The book is an exciting and colourful description of modern life in Palestine, objectively uncovering the complex political and ethnic relationships of the British mandate, in which Arabs, Jews and Englishmen lived together in fragile equilibrium marred by ever-intensifying violence, which would soon lead to even bloodier events and ultimately the creation of Israel.

Where Have all the Soldiers Gone?
1971

The second book in the trilogy is more experimental than the first, describing the events of a single day in a lung sanatorium in Gedara. The events centre around a young Arab servant, Abed, and the stifling atmosphere of daily life in the hospital as seen from his point of view. Doctors and patients, Arabs and Jews, Poles and Italians live and die together in a suspended reality in which hopelessness causes bygone injuries to flare up. The only person who rejects this passionate desire for revenge is a dying Polish colonel, an old-fashioned soldier, who attempts to retain his good intention and human dignity to the very end.

The End of the Story
1977

The last book of the trilogy, written in first person singular, is about a young soldier called Uri, who travels from a military camp situated 15 kilometres north of Beér-Sevá to Gedara. Uri tries to maintain his sense of humour and irony and with these characteristics attempts to appease the desperately angry people he meets along the way. By the end of the book, he realizes that his only option is to leave Israel, and the short journey within the country provides good preparation for the longer one back to Hungary. This trilogy of novels is Kardos' most significant achievement; it was followed by a long period of creative silence during which Kardos wrote screenplays and columns with his customary acumen and humour. At that time, he was reportedly working on a novel about the Bor prison camp, but was unable to finish the manuscript.

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