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Author's page

( 1939 )

» Back to Base (1978, 2000 )
» Supporting Characters (1980, 1993 )
» Cobblestone (1988, 1994 )


1939 born in Budapest
1962 graduates in Spanish and Russian from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
1960-62 script editor for Madách Theatre, Budapest
1963 Hungarian language reader at Havana University
1962-75 member of the Hungarian Writers` Association, editor of various literary journals (Élet és Irodalom, Mozgó Világ)
1975-88 works for an electronic billboard
1990-93 leader of creative writing workshops at Eötvös Loránd University

His prizes include:
1966 The Prize of the International Short Story Contest of PEN and IWF, 1983 Attila József Prize, 1986 Golden Meteor Prize, 1989 Book of the Year Prize, For the Literature of the Future Prize, 1990 Pro Urbe Budapest Prize, 1992 Déry Tibor Award, 1995 Füst Milán Prize, 1996, 1998 The Soros Foundation`s Literary Prize, 1999 Márai Sándor Prize

Back to Base
1978, 2000

Back to Base The central character, János Bárán, born in 1939, fatherless since the age of two, aims to understand the powers that influenced his fate. He revisits his father s death and researches extensively, uncovering documents, building an authentic biography of father. In his investigation he travels to the place of the prison camp where his father was killed, and then delves further in the past, recalling the meeting of his parents and the ecstatic moment of their love sometime in the spring of 1938. To achieve its psychological merit, the novel relies on exact description and a telescoping of the past and present.

Supporting Characters
1980, 1993

Supporting Characters This novel was written in 1970, but its publication was withheld for political reasons; the book was one of the first documents of the silent revolt of the Sixties in Hungarian universities, presenting the life of a student expelled from university. It is a novel of a generation, another lost generation seeking their proper place, who, in trying to get rid of the value system of their fathers, cast their eyes on the West. The unornamented, realistic earlier style of Lengyel s fiction turns to archaism, light banter and linguistic humour in this book. The seemingly alienating effects time montage, clear cuts and objectivity ultimately contribute to the novel s aim.

1988, 1994

Cobblestone A detective novel by definition, this book presents life in Budapest at the turn of the century. The story unfolds in two mysteriously linked planes of time; on the one hand there is the narrator recounting how he organized a famous jewellery heist in the year of the millennium; simultaneously with him, we meet the detective, a sensible man with an exceptionally logical mind. Alongside this, the writer interrupts the story from time to time, explaining to his audience here his own daughter his past, telling her about the ups and downs of his own life. The book has a dense atmosphere. This is due partly to its varied, at times archaic, tones and its stylistic bravura, and partly to the incredible amount of topographic knowledge, which is occasionally interpolated by playful anachronisms. - Imre Szász Lengyel is more at ease when narrating the shifting, wandering curiosity of criminal and detective alike, trailing across a vast Europe in which Hungarians (and, by extension, other nationalities) can delight in feeling at home. -Julian Duplain, TLS

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