Author's page

Biography

1964 born in Budapest
1984-87 studies Hungarian Literature and Linguistics and History at the Teacher Training College of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest
1987-92 studies Hungarian Literature and Linguistics and History, then graduates in Hungarian and Czech Literature and Linguistics from ELTE University, spending three semesters at University Karlovy, Prague, and one semester at Columbia University, New York
1987-90 on scholarship from Művészeti Alap (Literary Foundation)
1994-96 on scholarship from ELTE
1997-present teaches at Péter Pázmány Catholic University

Awards
1989 IRAT Special Award
1993 IRAT Award of Excellence
1995 Zsigmond Móricz Grant
1995 Soros Grant
1998 Jan Smrek Award (Bratislava)
1998 Tibor Déry Award
1998 Milán Füst Award
2000 Book of the Year Award
2000 The Vilenyica Meeting’s Crystal Award (Szlovénia)
2003 Attila József Award
2004 2nd Prize in Drama Category at the competition „Our Dear Mothertongue”
2004 Vilmos Award
2005 Premia Bohemica Award (Czech literary prize)


The Old-Prodigy. Natural History
1996

In this book, Vörös examines the details of everyday life, writes its "natural history", but his texts start to allude to and play with the traditions of world literature (e.g. his title, "The Idea of Order at Visegrád" refers to and plays with the motives of Wallace Stevens's text). Reviewing the book, the poet László Lator identifies "two characteristic traits of István Vörös's talent." "One is a vision that is sensitive to details and is almost tactile, and within this, there is an ever-growing inclination towards a playfulness indulging in the grotesque, the absurd, the paradox" ... "The other one is some instinctive sense of form," the poet's responsiveness "to form, his material, to order, to set, to shed light on it."

From the Annales of Vécsey Street
1998–1999

This book, full of surrealistic details, plays with time, with the apocalypse and, as has become Vörös’s wont, with literary traditions and texts. “With his new way of handling time, [István Vörös’s poetry] involves abstract notions and with his strikingly strong handling of imagery, makes them graphic, so that (having made them palpable) he can demonstrate how easily decayable, how fragile, how finite they are.” -Roland Acsay

The Five Fingers of the Hand
2001

The first two cycles of István Vörös’s third book of stories, “The Zero Degree of Reading” and “Stories from the Rent-a-Man” comprise loosely related texts, while “The Stone-eating Man” is a novelette of its own. His texts are characterised by dreams, an intended floatation, an undecided state of affairs. Györgyi Horváth discovers the method and the poetics of Camus in the texts, as it was distilled into Hungarian fiction by Miklós Mészöly. Yet instead of Camus’s “tender indifference” to nature, in “The Stone-eating Man” the elements of nature are foreboding and evoke anxiety, they are the torn and undone textures of creation. “Vörös is able to situate his archetypal figures, his human and animal creatures, with a few strong strokes. Then moving one component slightly, he suddenly pulls them into completely new relations. His changing imagery and his associative technique is light, at times daring, and is rich in linguistic inventions, but our author is disciplined with stylisation.” -József Tamás Reményi

Heidegger, the Post Office Clerk
2003

The hero of István Vörös’s post-modern verse-novel (that may be regarded as a parody or a philosophic-linguistic game) is Martin Heidegger, whom he sends from the present world into Hell and finally to Purgatory through a series of real and fictive meeting, in fifteen parts, handling the philosopher’s biography freely. Besides the genre of the verse-novel and the epic, the text clearly refers to Dante’s Divine Comedy. The philosopher is accompanied into Hell by Hölderlin, by Švejk (a favourite with Vörös) and finally Hannah Arendt. The world of experiences and the conceptual nature of language are in playful opposition within the book. The poet Győző Ferencz suspects that the author may have thought, “since theory tends primarily to look for and find its own self in the work, he will see what happens if he lets loose poetry on theory. Is there poetry in theory?” Gábor Schein finds that with the figures of Švejk and Kafka, Vörös “makes his hero face certain Central-European experiences that are otherwise foreign to the Heideggerian oeuvere”; he notes that this a-historic game renders history relative.

Svejk's Confessor
2007

The central characters in the stories of Vörös’s latest collection are ordinary people: a shop assistant in a patisserie, a tram driver who is near the end of his studies at law school, servant girls who have false pregnancies, or the slightly dotty father of the six-year-old sick little Mozart. The stories are at once surreal, marvellous and mundane. An unexceptional waitress, for instance, can change in a trice into a copulating female locust readying itself to chew off the heads of males. Leopold Mozart, worrying about the fate of his son, suddenly finds himself confronted, instead of by the waitress, by an angel from whose breasts flows the light blue liquid of angel’s milk. In a major part of the volume Jaroslav Has·ek, Franz Kafka and the great fin-de-siècle Hungarian writer Gyula Krúdy are conjured up, with Vörös providing ingenious and composite continuations to the literary lives their respective creations, S·vejk, Gregor Samsa and Sindbad. The last third of the book is taken up by a novella entitled The Art of Polite Speech, which is a new reinterpretation of the Kafkaesque world. Vörös’s stories are amusing, grotesque, even at times burlesque or slyly dreamlike in the way that they continually confront the reader with the fact that we live in a godless world. Even as they do that, though, they also indirectly, with the aid of a sense that something is missing, manage to conjure up a divine dimension that a writer nowadays can only take seriously as a sense of the absurd. “What is most exciting is the way the author is able to retain his writing craft’s yearning for the metaphysical while, at the same time, he writes a devastatingly entertaining book.” Emese László, Élet és Irodalom “The thing he always could do he can now do ever more uninhibitedly, and that is to tell stories exceedingly well.” József Tamás Reményi, Élet és Irodalom

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