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Ferenc TEMESI
( 1949 )

» Dust (1986-87)
» Pest (1996 )
» Gabo and Death (2003)

Biography

1949 born in Szeged
1974 graduates from Szeged University in Hungarian-English studies; works in Budapest at the University Library, later in the Club of Young Artists
from 1975 freelance writer
1988 participating fellow in the International Writers Program, Iowa
1991 participant in the Prose Writers Congress in Mexico


His works have been published since the late 1970s, but he has also written regularly for newspapers. He is also known as an essayist and
playwright. Temesi’s style and the ars poetica of his novels can best be described as experimental. All of his prose works are an attempt at redefi ning genre boundaries. Perhaps the best known experiment
in this regard is his book Por (Dust), which appeared in the middle of the 1980s, and which was released as a “dictionary novel” in two volumes, utilizing a dictionary layout from which it tried to
construct a dialogue. Királyáldozat (Sacrifi cing the King), a novel published in 2000 which relates a story within the framework of a chess match between an amateur and a Mexican grandmaster, has
also won acclaim for its experimental structure. His latest work, a biography of Béla Bartók entitled Bartók, also stretched the boundaries of biographies and novels. The ambition, monumentality and
preparedness of the work put it in league with the German Rüdiger Safranski’s biographies, but its straining against the boundaries of traditional biographic works, it opens the way toward the novel.

His prizes include:
1975 Zsigmond Móricz Grant, 1983 One World Poetry Festival, 1986 MTA-Soros Grant, 1987 Tibor Déry Prize, 1988 Attila József Prize, 1988 Literature of the Future Prize, 1992 Lajos Nagy Prize, 1993 Book of the Year Prize, 1999 Tekintet Prize, 2002 Pro Literatura

Dust
1986-87

A family novel with a post-modern structure: the two-volume book is organised as a dictionary or an encyclopaedia of longer and shorter headwords, comprising the history of an age. The central character of the book is not a person but a town called Porlód (Dustville, which can be identified with the author’s hometown, Szeged). The encyclopaedist or narrator is András Szeles, who writes about the town of his youth and about his vast number of friends and relatives (from the beginning of the twentieth century until today) who all have their respective stories and anecdotes. The reader (the Encyclopaedia User) is obliged to read and understand the order and importance of these interesting, ironic and enthralling stories. The book was considered one of the most important Hungarian novels of the Eighties.

Pest
1996

The protagonist of the book is another alter-ego of the artist: Zoltán Tengődi (‘Scrappy’), a promising young man born in Porlód who comes to Budapest in the hope of becoming a novelist. While writing his first book, he becomes the director of the Club of Young Artists in Budapest and gets his first experiences in the capital, meeting many girls while he moves from flat to flat. Tengődi is a great fan of Chinese culture and begins to learn Chinese; the book is organized in accordance with the 36 ancient techniques of martial arts. The book also contains many old and new anecdotes about the town of Porlód and its inhabitants, while also offering a guide to the Budapest of the 1990s.

Gabo and Death
2003

Comprised of a collection of essays, feuilletons and book reviews which appeared in magazines and newspapers, this book gives a true picture of Hungary at the turn of the millennium. The title of the book is taken from one of the essays dealing with the art of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the responsibility of the writer in troubled times. The essays (sometimes short stories in themselves) range over many different topics: cloning, terrorism, Einstein, and the stories and anecdotes of average people and great artists alike. The book reviews intend to present many recent books that were somehow mistreated by readers and reviewers. Temesi writes about the period of political transition in Hungary as the time of “cheaters and passers-through”, and he treats the world of today with similar irony. “He who writes clearly has a readership—he whose writings are obscure has a lot of commentators” says the writer, himself more interested in the former.

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