Author's page

Imre ORAVECZ
( 1943 )

Biography

1943 born in Szajla, a village in Northern Hungary
1962-67 studies Hungarian and German at KLTE University, Debrecen
1968-73 for political reasons unable to find employment; freelance writer; lives in Budapest, Paris and London
1970 translator at the Hungarian News Agency
1973-74 on scholarship at the University of Iowa
1974-76 assistant lecturer at the Foreign Language Department of Karl Marx University of Economics, Budapest
1976 studies Linguistics at Illinois University; freelance writer
1982-94 columnist, later Editor, then Senior Editor at Élet és Irodalom
1985-86 guest professor at University of California
1990 member of the prime minister`s advisory board
1991-92 senior editor and columnist at Új Magyarország
1993 senior editor of Pesti Hírlap
1995 teaches at Péter Pázmány Catholic University

Major prizes:
1972 Kassák Prize, 1985 Milán Füst Prize, 1988 DAAD-Scholarship, Berlin; Örley Prize; For the Literature of the Future Award, 1989 Attila József Prize (rejected), 1996 Sándor Weöres Prize, 1997 Book of the Year Prize, 2001 Belletrists` Society Prize, 2003 Kossuth Prize

The Book of Hopis
1983

The Book of Hopis For Oravecz, the composition of a book is always crucial and each time different so his poems are best read in the context of the whole volume and of the other volumes. His first poems belong to modernism and the period of objective poetry, while those of his second volume open into the post-modern era. In his third book, using the language of myths, Oravecz invents the fictitious, cyclical books of creation of the Hopi Indians, who live in the territory that is now North Arizona, and who consider themselves the chosen people (the five books comprising poems of creation and destruction, poems defining the world and giving names to its creatures, the human explanation of things, the love story of one Hopi couple and, finally, love songs). The texts have a ritual, chanting quality, and at times allude to the Bible.

1972. September
1988/1993

1972. September This volume discloses even the smallest details of a love story, in a detached manner that is nevertheless profound in its effect. Each half-page or one-page-long untitled prose poem makes up one long sentence, but the texts re-write, modify or, at times, cancel out one another in manifold ways, proving that the original memory is inexpressible. The meticulous description only fortifies uncertainty, as nothing can be placed exactly in time or space. The poems told in the first person singular always address a second person, but are closest to the genre of the monologue (or other epic genres like the diary, the verse novel, the sequence of stories, the book of memories or the novel of letters).

Fishing Man. Szajla Fragments to a Village Novel
1998

Fishing Man. Szajla Fragments to a Village Novel Oravecz had been planning to write a novel about his native village, Szajla, since the late 1980s. It was obvious that the Szajla-cycle would grow into a huge work almost impossible to complete, an explanation for the subtitle Fragments to a Village Novel. The lean language of Oravecz s poetry, with its natural, spasmodic rhythm, bears the features of spontaneous speech and gives itself naturally to free verse. The author provides a truthful monograph of his village, reflecting on the places, the dirt-road names, the neighbours, the tools, the seasons, the children s games, the playmates, the relatives and the family members (some immigrated to Canada). At the same time, he discloses the beautifully ordered relations that were once held between individuals and their community, and rural life, ruined by compulsory and centrally-controlled, extensive farming and by useless industrialisation after the state confiscated the farm-lands.

Ondrok's Pit
2007

This year s big literary sensation is a novel about peasant life, about a village, a description of life in the Hungarian countryside between 1867 and 1896 arguably to date the best attempt ever made to capture the real nature of peasant fates in Hungary. It is, at the same time, also a family saga (the story of three generations of the Árvais), a masterful tale of father-son conflicts, and not least a sentimental love story. Finally, it is a thorough evaluation of the reasons why, during this period, some million or more Hungarian citizens tottered away from the country to emigrate to the United States America. This unbelievably gripping family saga provides a compendious and sensitive description of the peasant world and existence such as has not previously been seen, even from the pens of Kálmán Mikszáth or Zsigmond Móricz, the great Hungarian novelists of rural life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, respectively. Hungarian though its subject may be, Ondrok s Pit, like all truly great work, is valid as a testament to human fate anywhere. Oravecz already a decade ago wrote about his native village of Szajla in the verse novel The Fishing Man, and he has now embarked on the same thing in the form of a genuine novel which takes the story up to 1896, the year when Hungary celebrated the millennial anniversary of its foundation. One must hope further instalments are in store. The empathetic neutrality of the narrative stance, its detachment from involvement (by provoking one to become involved), are simply unparalleled in Hungarian literature. László Szilasi, Élet és Irodalom Unfurling with undemonstrative reticence in the novel are the primal experiences of birth and death, the creative power in the sexual act, and the flaws in failed beings. József Tamás Reményi, Népszabadság

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