Author's page

Biography

1940 (5th July) born in Magyarkanizsa
1959-62 studies at the University of Újvidék/Novisad, then in Zagreb
1969 Editor-in-Chief of Új Symposion
1974 Editor for the Radio Újvidék/Novisad
1992 Editor-in-Chief for the Ex Symposion

Awards
1967, 1980 Bridge Award
1988 Szirmai Award
1998 Award of the Kelemen Mikes Kör in the Netherlands (Association for Hungarian Art, Literature and Science in the Netherlands)
1991 Message Award
1991 Attila József Attila
1992 Kortárs Award of Excellence
1992 Book of the Year Award
1993 Ady Endre Award
1993 IRAT Award of Excellence
1994 Alföld Award
1995 Tibor Déry Award
1997 Ferenc Bodrogvári Award
1997 Milán Füst Award
1999 Sándor Weöres Award
1999 Bezerédj Award
2000 Golden Medal of the President of the Hungarian Republic
2000 Miklós Radnóti Award
2001 Award for Parallel Cultures
2005 Hungarian Literary Award
2007 Kossuth Award

Village Orpheus
1983

Ottó Tolnai is one of the most versatile poets of Hungarian literature in the Vajdaság. Beginning with refined Rilkean imagery, moving towards Surrealism and Dadaism, the poet soon hid his sensitivity under the mask of irony. Tolnai’s poems written in free verse are organised around grammatical-syntactic and philosophical units, his favourite genre is the monologue, in the sixties the song (the guerrilla’s song), the poema and the Dadaist ode, but he frequently experiments with crossing the borders of genres. In the seventies, he recapitulates the stages of the poetic road behind him through volumes structured along stricter lines, as this selected volume shows.

3. Virág Street
1983

This novel woven from short pieces between prose and poetry is a sort of sensitive plotting of Ottó Tolnai’s own home and personal mythology. Objects form the past and the present, like the cyclamen-coloured pencil or the clown from the story “Head or tail”, start a chain of associations, and whatever is perceptible can claim the writer’s attention, whether it is a dog or a rooster, the colour and structure of the nut tree’s bark, the hailstones as big as a pigeon’s egg or the “hairy building” that the author’s children “have always known”. The narrator’s constant, playful curiosity stands for an enviable ability for freedom – the pre-war light-mindedness of the Újvidék of the 1970s.

Village Orpheus
1992

Wilhelm, the village clown, turns up for the first time in the protest song "Ode to Stalin"; by inexhaustibly collecting banalities, the poet can articulate his own social state and defencelessness. This gives him a new possibility for experimenting: by imitating the song, a grotesque way of singing, and creating a demonic duality of clown and poet, his poems gain new dimensions. Wilhelm-songs are the consummation and perfection of Ottó Tolnai's art, they present everything the author knows of the world through the interplay of the Simple-minded, the Artist and the Mirror.

Lovers of Pompeii
2007

This book can be read either as a collection of short stories or as an essay novel. The contents comprise prose pieces that the poet and writer put together between 1999 and 2006. The narrator of the autobiography, an author living at Palic¡ (in the province of Vojvodina in Serbia), tells about his quotidian life, his memories, his travels, the odd provincial characters who surround him. The stories are woven equally from a vast cultural web and banal taproom heroics. The narrator s found objects and figures evoke the distinct yet culturally intertwined worlds of the bygone Austro-Hungarian Empire and the now equally disintegrated late Yugoslav Republic. With regard to form, the pieces are essayistic story-fragments, but they continuously nod at the novel genre, repeatedly mentioning it without actually enacting or emulating it. A novel entitled Infaust is continually being cited, with the writer asserting that this is precisely the work he is composing: a novel about loveable good-for-nothings in a spa-water resort the Infausts of Palic¡. An enthralling read and, by no means just incidentally, one of the most noteworthy literary creations of recent years. Tibor Bárány, Élet és Irodalom

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