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June 07, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Book Week, John Lukacs and some new books by female authors

Have you ever been in Budapest?

Do you know what does it mean Gerbeaud?

Do you know the works of the historian John Lukacs?

Do woman write historical stories different?

(Gerbeaud)

The Gerbeaud is a legendary cafe in the heart of the city, established in 1858, which is a” must seen” place, if you visit Budapest. It is on the Vörösmarty Square, the traditional venue for the Hungarian Festive Book Weeks, an exactly 80 years old event, and organised always on the first weekend of June.

(People on the Book Week)

It is quite important for our cultural life, the publishing of books by important authors are scheduled mostly for this event usually. There are published special anthologies for this weekend, with the best/ most important poems or short stories of the year. The stars of the cultural life sign their books, there are several readings, etc.

The absolutely hit of the Book Week this year was for me the new book by John Lukacs. Or better to say: the absolutely hit was for me to see John Lukacs, here, in Hungary.

He is a historian born in Budapest but living in the US, and as I know his work Five Days in London was a hit in 2001 in America. I’ve read only one book written by him: A Thread of Years. It’s a historical work written in a quite unusual form, there are for example dialogues in the book between the writer and an other someone. The lesson of this book is maybe: writing about the past is not only just enumerating some dates.

His new book , Last Rites is a biographical work. He tells us for example his fellings about returning home to Hungary, past and present, the good old life in Budapest before 1945 and the today are mixed in this texts, with a typically (typically Hungarian?) bitter-sweet nostalgia.

Well, 1945 is an important date here in the eastern part of Europe. And there are two new (puzblished recently in Hungary) books, written by female authors connected with this date. One of them is Penize od Hitlera [Hitler’s money] by Radka Denemarkova, a Czech author. It'1s a book about a life of a little village somewhere in Czech Republic, about common and individual sins, about the "gravity" of the past. I think, the title of this book is a bit misleading, this story is about the situation after 1945. The bad years haven't finished with the end of ww2, there were another terrible situations after it too.

And not only in the Czechoslovakia. The book I started to read this weekend, Train to Triest is written by a Rumanian author* Domnica Radulescu, is about a young girl, living in Rumania in the ‘70s, her parents are teachers, and the first 100 pages of the book is mostly about fears.

Living in freedom and democracy we can’t imagine what it means for example: it isn’t allowed to have a typewriter at home.

On the other hand some chapters of the book remember me the famous book Childhood by Nathalie Sarraute.

*(Domnica Radulescu is living since 1983 in the US. )

1 megjegyzés:

Marie said...

Beautiful post. I have never been to Budapest but your photos are lovely. And Book Week sounds fabulous!

 
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