Author's page

Menyhért LAKATOS
( 1926 - 2007 )

Biography

1926 born in Vésztő
1954 graduates as general engineer from People's College, Nagykőrös
1954-55 head of department at the district council of Szeghalom
1955-62 production engineer at Szarvas and Nagykőrös
1964 director of the Gypsy (Roma) Brick Factory
1969-75 research fellow in Ciganology of the Sociology Research Group at the Hungarian Academy of Science
1970 elected Vice-President of the Gypsy World Federation in London
1973-present freelance writer
1986 with a group of Roma intellectuals, founds Gypsy Cultural Association and the first Roma Paper, Romano Njevipe
1988-present president of the Gypsy Cultural Association in Hungary, works for social and cultural organisations for the Hungarian Gypsies
1992-present managing president of the Gypsies' Democratic Association in Hungary
1993 member of the board of Hungary's Stage Company
1994 member of parliament for the Independent Small-holders Party


His prizes include:
1976 Milán Füst Prize, 1976, 1993 Attila József Prize, 1995 Book of the Year Prize, 1999 Laureate of the Hungarian Republic

Smoky Pictures
1975

Smoky Pictures Menyhért Lakatos s first novel portrays the difficult, conflict-ridden place of Gypsies (the Roma) in village society in the era before World War II. He shows the life of the Gypsies with a documentary credibility. In presenting the everyday strife and hardships of the Gypsies, struggling as they do with hunger, poverty, cold and hatred, sometimes even hatred among themselves, Lakatos s prose gains an elementary power, leading to dramatic tension. As a writer, he has been able to restore the wounded self-esteem of the humiliated Gypsies, familiar with their inner resources and honesty as governed by the community s own, strict laws.

The Tales of the Long Nights
1979

The Tales of the Long Nights. The Offsprings of the Paramishas The framework of this series of exotic, oriental tales takes place in the court of an aging, childless king. After long years of waiting, his wife gives birth to a crab-child who, under a curse, eats up all the marriageable girls of the kingdom, until a Gypsy girl redeems him with her love. The prince should guard his secret for years but his mother finds him out, so he has to leave for good. In the second half of the story, it is the prince’s son who sets out to find him, and through a series of adventures, helped by charms (for instance a magic ring that brings back lost self-assurance), and by his own cunning, he succeeds in finding his father. The tale is built upon elements of Gypsy folklore.

The Secret
1998

The Secret This collection comprises contemporary short stories, old-fashioned tales and even apocryphal parables about Peter’s experiences in the company of Christ. While the title story sheds light on a past murder, its surrealistic ending takes it from reality to the world of miracles, thus connecting it to the rest of the book. In the two contemporary stories, Lakatos presents the humorous fright of a superstitious Gypsy family (“Haunted”), and the unembarrassed human feelings of a young Gypsy woman (“Coffee with Milk”). The longest piece of the book, the richly ornamented tale “The Black Fiddle”, tells about the freedom of wandering, the magic of music and love.

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