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Zsolt LÁNG
( 1958 )

» Kaputnovel (1989 )
» The Liberation of Perényi (1993 )
» The Life of the Jackstraw-man (1994 )
» Bestiarium Transylvaniae: The Birds of Heaven (1997 )
» The Birth of Emma Kovács and Other Stories (2006)


1958 born in Szatmárnémeti (Satu Mare, Romania)
1982 acquires a diploma in Engineering at the Technological University of Kolozsvár (Cluj)
1982-1989 teacher in villages around Szatmár
1989 his first novel is published
1990 editor of the Transylvanian literary journal, Látó, based in Marosvásárhely (Tîrgu Mureş)
1993 Zsigmond Móricz Grant
1993 Prize of the magazine Hét
1994 Soros Grant
1995 Yaddo Grant, New York
1999 Endre Ady Prize


Fuccsregény (Kaputnovel), 1989 In his early prose, the Transylvanian writer Zsolt Láng uses methods resembling those of Péter Esterházy. Language for him is of extreme importance, but he, as opposed to some of his contemporaries, still values storytelling and reflection. Although this collection of short stories shows great skill in storytelling and fantasy, he still faces with the task of bringing identity to the storyteller.

The Liberation of Perényi

Perényi szabadulása (The Liberation of Perényi), 1994 The title refers to História Perényi Ferenc kiszabadulásáról (The Tale of the Liberation of Ferenc Perényi) by the 16th century writer Mihály Sztárai. In reference to this historic background, Láng s novel follows two, connected strands of stories: one is the story of a librarian called Perényi, who lives in a city, Bordertown , resembling the Transylvanian city Marosvásárhely; Perényi has been fasting for 333 days because he is preparing, he believes, to beget a child. The other component of the book is comprised of a colourful mix of different stories taking place in many historical periods, linked by cohesion of motives. The life of the librarian is closely connected to the history of the world. His story is overseen by the same omnipotent being who is directing human history: the devil himself, who is presented in the story in many guises and by many names. Perényi loses his name and even his self in the fight for love, but in the end manages to free his beloved, Nóra, from hell. Lang s conclusion here: liberation from sin and from our selves is only possible if we manage to dissolve our selfish selves in another person and this is the point where fiction must end.

The Life of the Jackstraw-man

A Pálcikaember élete (The Life of the Jackstraw-man), 1994 The title character is a strange, child-like man living in a world viewed as absurd. We watch him in his inner and outer struggles to survive and at the same time understand his inner ego communicating with him through his dreams. While his friends manage to make a living and find success, the Jackstraw-man s lone achievement in life is preparing the world s greatest paper planes: the wind carries them as far as the sea. The novel is especially interesting for its compositional methods.

The Birth of Emma Kovács and Other Stories

The Birth of Emma Kovács and Other Stories Láng s always very carefully constructs and refines his sentences; it pays to read them slowly, with pleasure (or even, sometimes, with alarm). The narrative logic always runs counter to expectations; never do we get what we are looking for, which is an important element of their poetry. Typically, much room is given to fragments of stories that are nipped off in the middle, pseudo-corrections (which only complicate matters while adding subtlety to the picture), cross-referencing and interfering structures, and strings of sentences that provoke a yearning for comprehension. Láng is a master at knowing how to time and place the unexpected pieces of a story, how to characterise them with succinct suggestions, questions and a few simple sentences and then how to throw us off balance with other, increasingly complex sentences. He is able to show how everything can be made distinct and yet, at the same time, not after all entirely comprehensible. In the tale that provides this volume with its title, (for an English translation of it see The Hungarian Quarterly (no.176, Winter 2004), the mystery of life is explored through the conception and birth of a girl. The volume opens with the story The Good Lord on Gellért Hill (English translation in HQ, No. 181, Spring 2006), which plays humorously with the notion of God s omnipotence, yet inability to control completely human affairs whereas the narrator can indeed be almighty. The Monastery of Shelter gives an interesting treatment of the real-life case of a mysterious murder committed in an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Romania.

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