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Róbert HÁSZ
( 1964 )


1964 born in Doroszló (Doroslovo, Serbia)
1982-87 graduates in Literary Theory from Újvidék/Novi Sad University
1991 settles down in Szeged

The Island of the Straw Dogs

These six stories by Hász are constructed from the Bible, the works of the Talmudists and the Greek historians. All Hász’s stories present a riddle to be solved, and his peculiar and extraordinarily erudite heroes sooner or later reveal a secret. According to Gábor Sánta, who praises the stories for their sense of proportion, their credibility and atmosphere, Hász “creates his own mythology out of common myths so as to ease the loneliness his rootlessness has caused. As if these histories grasping our attention were written by an escaping person’s longing for community. It is no accident that the narrator...offers all sorts of explanations to the mysteries belonging to all humankind but closed behind gates, with all the meticulous, fact-revealing care of a desperate storyteller.”

Diogenes’s Garden

The theme of Róbert Hász s first novel is homelessness. The story starts in a strange, disused building on the wasteland boundary of a housing estate where the narrator lives with his family, and it is here that, escaping from his own problems, he meets three men who appear to be homeless, Doc, Papa and Diogenes. The three knowledgeable men never get drunk from the strange drink they consume, but they invite the narrator, and from the world of common people, of the blind , they lead him underground, into the world of the seers . The novel, alluding to the work of Béla Hamvas and Nándor Várkonyi, is, in Gábor Sánta s view, the emigrant writer s facing up to his situation, and at the same time an exciting cultural history and vision of the future .

Border Castle

The novel is set in the Balkans, where a young lieutenant is stationed to a godforsaken post, whose existence nobody seems to know about. He enters into a place entirely cut off from the world, into an almost fantastic atmosphere, where he soon learns that nothing is what it seems to be. The people there do not live in one world only, but instead parallel worlds, and even reality is a toy of the senses . Besides his unquestionable narrative skill, the discipline of the composition, the well-planned structure, the language that mixes different registers and the seemingly traditional way of writing, what makes Hász s novel real is that, despite the adventure-like storytelling, it is deeply philosophical, touching on the problems of boundaries, time, naming and the search for the self. Border Castle has created the rare balance of an exciting plot, a perfection in thought, and a lyricism unusual in contemporary fiction. Through the imagination, the intuition and a sense of wonder, the novel has opened up new territory for fiction unexplored with traditional expression.

The kende

A historical novel set in the middle of the ninth century. It has been recorded that in the year 963 Pope John XII dispatched a certain Stephanus of Pannonia, a monk from the Benedictine monastery of St Galen in Switzerland, on a mission to the land of the barbarian Magyars in order to offer them an alliance against the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto the Great. For his journey, the monk is given a pectoral ornament depicting a bird. The Magyars have by now recovered from their defeat at the hands of German King Otto in the Battle of Augsburg in 955 (following which they stopped their raids into the West and Otto was crowned emperor by the Pope in 962). From the avian pectoral ornament the Magyars reason that the emissary can be none other than Kursan, son of Lord Csaba, and now in turn the künde , or nominal leader, of the seven tribes that entered and settled down in what became Hungarian territory. Some of the leaders of the despondent and disintegrating Magyar tribal alliance, dispirited by military defeat, regain their hope of being able to restore the Magyars ancient system of double kingship. The events described here have a historical basis, and Hász puts particular emphasis on creating a sense of authenticity. Equally, though, we learn about the events from three different sources which often contain conflicting information. In other words, we are given both a plot that is faithful to its period and a narrative approach constructed on uncertainty. This way of story-telling, with its tendency to the mythical and the fantastic, cannot be approached from the viewpoint of either traditional story-centred, verisimilar psychological realism or of post-modern literature. -Sándor Olasz, Kortárs

The Trip with Julia

We Hungarian readers have gotten used to Róbert Hász (b. 1964) surprising us with books that vary widely in genre. His new work, The Trip with Julia (Júliával az út) is a unique blend of fiction and fact. The basic outline: Julia, who comes from Vojvodina, a province comprising northern Serbia that is heavily populated by ethnic Hungarians, tells the writer the story of her life and of her family. Beyond the particulars of Julia’s tale, the book more broadly conveys a characteristic Central European family story in which the never-ending cycle of war and peace shapes, forms, and polishes all concerned—a story that zeroes in thematically on fate, on its premise that “human fates are repeated on this earth just like seasons, with the same roles returning again and again, only that different individuals keep playing these roles.”

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