Author's page

Miklós VÁMOS
( 1950 )

Biography

1950 born in Budapest
1975-88 columnist at Élet és Irodalom (literary weekly, Budapest)
1975-90 literary consultant at the Objektive Film Studio, Budapest, which produced the Oscar winning Mephisto
1988-89 Fulbright scholar, USA
1989-90 visiting professor at Yale University, teaching playwriting and screenwriting
1990-2003 East European correspondent for The Nation (USA)

His prizes include:
1984 Attila József Prize
1997 Shell Washington Prize
2000 Camera Hungaria
2002 Pro Cultura Urbis
2003 Columbus Award

Sin gasong
1983

A speech choir means that we divide a poem, each of us gets a line to recite, it s not easy, you ll have to pay attention. And during the song all of you will have to stand there, and at least pretend that you re singing. This novel relates the story of a six-year-old boy in the year of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. At the beginning of the story, Öcsi (Junior) takes divinity classes from a former nun, which he must keep secret during the age of dogmatic communism, during a time of meetings and parades to celebrate Stalin and his Hungarian comrade, Our Father, the Leader, Rákosi . The boy is beset with confusion, and no one (neither child nor adult) is able to give a coherent explanation for this chaotic world of secrets, lies, fears and dangers. The novel gives an overview of the country and age seen through the eyes of this curious boy, and ends with the downfall of the Revolution not only Hungary is crushed in the end; Öcsi is also beaten by two gunmen. The style of the novel is unique; words are mingled and merged, imitating not only the rapid speech and breathing of the boy, but also his inability to comprehend the absurdities of the age. In a state of shock and fever, he loses even this unsatisfactory means of communication and begins to stutter. Yet, in spite of all the difficulties and tragedies, the novel is a delight to read.

Mothers Are Not Chosen by Election
1995

"...sad to say, but my dearest son called the police, and they broke the door in on us, when I heard the hideous racket I went out to see what the heck is that, and the two officers and the locksmith boomed into the hall, and oh boy, was I naked, and I saw the idiotic expression on my stupid son's face, mom what are you doing here? and I smiled with all my might and said: my dearest, right now I am a little busy, you know, it's my love life, and I don't really understand why the fuck did you have to burst into my home?" The book is the story of an aging mother, a unique woman of tremendous energy and unbridled fantasy. Most of the novel consists of her inner monologue, beginning with the moment when she commits suicide and ending with her funeral - but in between she is saved from an overdose, only to be diagnosed with terminal cancer. The other half of the novel is a third person singular narrative, relating how her son, Laci, copes with the situation and his own hopeless unrequited love towards a beautiful young woman. The monologues of the mother are written in two utterly different styles: when the neurotic mother is in a manic phase, the text is dense, hilarious and proceeds with tremendous speed, but when she is depressed, she is barely able to speak. The novel is full of amazing stories and startling events, including love affairs, forgery of documents, and an autopsy, and in spite of its evident message that one cannot help someone who will not accept it, the tone itself is that of love and consolation.

Book of Fathers
2000

This monumental family saga chronicles the life of twelve generations of the male offspring of Konrél Csillag, the youngest boy and only survivor of the Czuczor printer family massacred in 1706 after the Habsburgs s suppression of the Hungarian revolt led by Ferenc Rákóczi. The survival of the son is a miracle not untypical of those experienced by the family. There is a puzzling relationship between the fathers and sons of the family; at certain moments, they possess the ability not only to experience their own lives, but that of their male ancestors as well. The family must endure other horrors. Csillag s grandson converts to Judaism and becomes a wine merchant, and consequently, the family also suffers firsthand through the Hungarian Holocaust and the terror of the Stalinist regime in the Fifties. The Sterns/Csillags immigrate to the United States, only to return to Budapest. The youngest adult member of the family picks up the story and carries it forward to 1999, the year of the solar eclipse symbolic because the family s fate had always been intertwined with the universe and stars. The novel s intricately woven fabric and rich style make it memorable and a characteristically Hungarian story which is of universal interest.

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