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Miklos Gyorgy SZARAZ
( 1958 )

» Silver Cat (1998)
» Horses in the Mist (2001)
» !Ó, Santo Domingo! (2003)


1958 born in Budapest
1981 graduates in History and Archival Studies from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest;
works as a journalist, then becomes columnist for the (now defunct) literary journal, Új Írás

His prizes include:
2003 Attila József Prize, József Fitz Prize

Silver Cat

Ezüst Macska (Silver Cat) 1998 György Miklós Száraz’s first novel takes places in a town famous for its gold mines, probably in Selmecbánya, but actually as much as anything in the world of the miraculous, the fantastic and the mythical. Lust for gold attracts curious figures, who relate old legends in the pages of the book and even create new myths, each trying to outdo the others in conjuring up the most horrible tales. In these fantasies, animal motives are most noticeable, paralleling the brutality of men. The legends within the book bring with them a broad sweep of time, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century; one of the central characters reflects: “For if you would ask me now, where exactly we are, what could I say? Could I tell you we are in this and that country, county or town? Could I say more than we are between these very walls? Aren’t we claiming very little indeed? What seems to be certain is the rising and setting sun. But not even that. Sometimes it is true, sometimes it is not. It all depends on time and space.” By the names of his characters, Száraz reminds his readers of the several traditions of Hungarian and world literature his book belongs to: Jacobus Troll, Konrád Teufel, Akhilleusz, etc., and Hungarian sounding ones like Gáspár Haramia (Bandit), Brúnó Vecsernyés (Vespers), Salamon Bernáthegyi (St Bernard), a bit in the manner of Béla Hamvas, but the book also has “relations” in contemporary Hungarian fiction (e.g. in the stories of András Cserna-Szabó).

Horses in the Mist

Horses in the Mist 2001 Miklós György Száraz deliberately seeks to reconcile that old-fashioned virtue of a compendious familiarity with his material and two approaches that nowadays are not usually compatible: the devices of the modern prose poem and a highly readable style. He revives the anecdotal traditions of Hungarian literature to knit together a panoramic view of the present day by digging into the strata of history. The novel is a love story, but the backdrop for it is supplied by the historical trauma of Hungary’s loss of two-thirds of its territory in 1920. A young woman, Márta, seeks to further her education by moving from her birthplace in the northern uplands, now part of Slovakia, to Budapest. There, her childhood small-town experiences are confronted with the mundane realities and frustrations of a group of metropolitan gadabouts—and particularly with their historical insensitivities or ignorance. They look down on her as a Slovak ‘country cousin’, whereas back home she is run down for precisely the opposite reason. Her family is profoundly cosy and sentimentally bound to their homeland; her father is a physician, a charming, absent-minded, quick-tempered yet upright man, whilst her maternal grandmother is a model of decorum, collected and uncompromisingly respectful. Associating every single acquaintance that she acquires in Budapest with the distinctive figures of the small northern town, Márta is constantly torn between her former and present homes. Her lover, whose name we never learn (he is only referred to as ‘my fiancé’ or ‘my beloved’), is a strange figure, a photographer and teacher, whom she all but inherits along with her apartment. Their romantic, glass-roofed studio apartment is thronged by friends, and friends of friends, and meanwhile they are shackled or liberated by fate, the myriad ties of nation and blood. With the death of her father and her fiancé’s neurotic departure, Márta comes to realize that her place is back home. After three tumultuous years in Budapest, she moves back to her birthplace, a more mature, wiser, more sober person. “The greatest of all Miklós György Száraz’s virtues, perhaps, is that he is not content with aimless brandishing of his arsenal of weaponry: his book does not merely seek to be written but also wants to be about something... It is a book that every secondary-school pupil should read, and it may be no exaggeration to suggest there is every chance that it will be, for there can be little doubt that a few decades from now one of the canons will be referring to Horses in the Mist as one of the more momentous works of the twenty-first century.” -Norbert Haklik, Magyar Nemzet

!Ó, Santo Domingo!

!Ó, Santo Domingo! 2003 The irregular, essayistic novel or travelogue spans the world from Hispaniola to the Caspian Sea, from the Old World to the New World, from the Carpathian Basin to the Balkans, and in time it reaches from the Ancient World and through the Middle Ages to arrive at the present. It involves several nations (the Moors, the Jews, the Spanish, the Hungarians), as well as various town scenes and landscapes. In the writer’s words, it is “a confession of love to Granada”, yet in spite of all its romanticism, it is based on thorough knowledge of facts, characteristic of the author.

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