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Attila Jász
( 1966 )


Attila Jász was born in Szőny in 1966. Since 1993 he has been editing the Hungarian journal Forrás, later becoming its editor-in-chief. Jász is considered an experimental writer. In his oeuvre one can find
the modern poetic novel XANTUSiana, the essay “Fürdőkádból a tenger, avagy különbségben a hasonlóság” (“Th e Sea from a Bathtub, or Similarity in Diff erence”) as well as the children’s poem
“Angyalfogó” (“Angel Catcher”). In the volume Alvó szalmakutyák (Sleeping Straw Dogs) he creates a new and distinct lyrical tradition through combining Eastern thought and Christian mysticism,
which he uses to point the reader in the direction of questions about poetic self-identity. Attila Jász’s attraction toward the visual arts is evident in his collection of poems published in 2010 as well as in Naptemplom (Th e Church of the Sun), one of his most recent works. Th e refl ections and interpretations inspired by Tivadar Csontváry Kosztka’s paintings provide the reader with just as much intellectual stimulation whether he is familiar with them or not. Either way, Attila Jász’s body of work adds a unique dash of color to contemporary Hungarian literature.

Life of Silent Feather

Csendes Toll (“Silent Feather”), the name of the main character of Attila Jász’s book as well as the title of the book itself, suggests a double reading from the moment the reader picks it up. It simultaneously presents the reader with the withdrawn, contemplative fi gure of the writer and Silent Feather, a plausible character from an American Indian novel. The novel spans the story of fi ft een years in the daily lives of Silent Feather and a small country town, which it reveals gradually, step by step. Attila Jász’s latest work, Csendes Toll élete (Th e Life of Silent Feather), is exciting not only because of its quirky title character, but also because of its unorthodox structure. Heralded as a “dictionary novel”, it is comprised of entries organized in alphabetical order. Beyond putting to paper the trivialities of everyday life, the themes found in the brief sections beneath the headings also address city life, family, and from a wider perspective, society. Th e constantly recurring headings (“feltételésmód” - “conditional mode,” “írni” - “to write”) reveal Silent Feather’s thoughts on writing and resemble American Indian meditation. Th e exciting stream of thoughts that emerge from these meditations take on a circular shape as they present aspects of our everyday environment, from the figure of an old lady who lives down the street to a wife quietly cooking a meal in the kitchen. As the book progresses, the various headings in Silent Feather’s accounts expand with meaning, and thanks to this sleight-of-hand, we can become witnesses to how a fl aming wall becomes a fi rewall, or how the light and “red-skinned” peoples blend together culturally around the heading “dialogue.” What this requires is for the reader to also become involved in the work’s game of labeling and denominating. Owing to its gently ironic undertones, Attila Jász’s latest work is exceptionally complex and diverse, and does not limit itself to being read in a continuous linear fashion, which makes for a fun-filled reading experience.

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