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A Guest in My Own Country: A Hungarian Life

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A Guest in My Own Country: A Hungarian Life Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"The fundamental problem, entrenched in the title of his fine and fascinating book, is whether or not Konrád should consider himself a guest in his own country. He poses the question even though he has done so much as a writer to enhance the reputation of Hungary....In view of renewed anti-Semitism on the political right, the question cannot yet be answered." István Deák, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A powerful memoir of war, politics, literature, and family life by one of Europe's leading intellectuals.

When George Konrád was a child of eleven, he, his sister, and two cousins managed to flee to Budapest from the Hungarian countryside the day before deportations swept through his home town. Ultimately, they were the only Jewish children of the town to survive the Holocaust.

A Guest in My Own Country recalls the life of one of Eastern Europe's most accomplished modern writers, beginning with his survival during the final months of the war. Konrád captures the dangers, the hopes, the betrayals and courageous acts of the period through a series of carefully chosen episodes that occasionally border on the surreal (as when a dead German soldier begins to speak, attempting to justify his actions).

The end of the war launches the young man on a remarkable career in letters and politics. Offering lively descriptions of both his private and public life in Budapest, New York, and Berlin, Konrád reflects insightfully on his role in the Hungarian Uprising, the notion of "internal emigration" — the fate of many writers who, like Konrád, refused to leave the Eastern Bloc under socialism — and other complexities of European identity. To read A Guest in My Own Country is to experience the recent history of East-Central Europe from the inside.

Review:

"This powerful, highly literary memoir by a world-famous author — essayist and novelist Konrd was elected president of International PEN in 1990 — discursively traces his life as a Hungarian child during the Holocaust, and later as a student during the Hungarian revolution of 1956. While it deals with his growth as an intellectual and writer, it is primarily a meditation on the conflicts between national and individual identity. Konrd's prose is distanced and unemotional, but always carries a potent punch: 'In the winter of 1944 — 45 I saw any number of dead bodies. I could picture myself among them, but the tasks of day-to-day existence obscured most of my imaginings. Danger makes you practical.' This cool, objective voice works as well for the smaller vignettes as it does when he is musing on Dr. Mengele's obsession with killing Jewish children. There are moments of almost surreal narrative here — his mother and father tell Konrd (b. 1933) and his sister bedtime 'adventure stories' of how they survived the war — but also moments of stately, traditional bildungsroman. His account of the 1956 revolution, in which he was an active participant, is equally laconic. This memoir stirs and provokes in unexpected ways that linger after it is read." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

In this memoir, Konrd recounts his life as a writer in Hungary, telling of his escape to Budapest to survive the Holocaust as a child, his public and private life there and in New York and Berlin, his career in writing and as a political activist, and his role in the Hungarian Uprising. Konrd refused to leave the Eastern Bloc during the period of socialism. There is no index and the book is divided into two sections, without separate chapters. The book was translated from Hungarian by Jim Tucker, a classical philologist living in Budapest who has translated Konrd's essays, and edited by Michael Henry Helm (Slavic languages, U. of California at Los Angeles). Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

US

About the Author

George Konrád, a former president of International PEN and the Academy of Arts in Berlin, is the author of The Case Worker and The Invisible Voice, among many other widely translated books. He lives in Budapest. Michael Henry Heim, a professor of Slavic languages and literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, has translated works by Anton Chekhov, Milan Kundera, and Bohumil Hrabal, among others.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781590511398
Author:
Konrad, George
Publisher:
Other Press (NY)
Translator:
Tucker, Jim
Editor:
Heim, Michael Henry
Author:
Tucker, Jim
Author:
Heim, Michael Henry
Author:
Konrad, Gyorgy
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
Authors, Hungarian.
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Konrad, Gy'orgy
Subject:
Authors, Hungarian -- 20th century.
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
April 24, 2007
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
308
Dimensions:
8.2 x 5.4 x .85 in .85 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Europe » Eastern Europe » Hungary
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe

A Guest in My Own Country: A Hungarian Life New Trade Paper
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Product details 308 pages Other Press (NY) - English 9781590511398 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This powerful, highly literary memoir by a world-famous author — essayist and novelist Konrd was elected president of International PEN in 1990 — discursively traces his life as a Hungarian child during the Holocaust, and later as a student during the Hungarian revolution of 1956. While it deals with his growth as an intellectual and writer, it is primarily a meditation on the conflicts between national and individual identity. Konrd's prose is distanced and unemotional, but always carries a potent punch: 'In the winter of 1944 — 45 I saw any number of dead bodies. I could picture myself among them, but the tasks of day-to-day existence obscured most of my imaginings. Danger makes you practical.' This cool, objective voice works as well for the smaller vignettes as it does when he is musing on Dr. Mengele's obsession with killing Jewish children. There are moments of almost surreal narrative here — his mother and father tell Konrd (b. 1933) and his sister bedtime 'adventure stories' of how they survived the war — but also moments of stately, traditional bildungsroman. His account of the 1956 revolution, in which he was an active participant, is equally laconic. This memoir stirs and provokes in unexpected ways that linger after it is read." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The fundamental problem, entrenched in the title of his fine and fascinating book, is whether or not Konrád should consider himself a guest in his own country. He poses the question even though he has done so much as a writer to enhance the reputation of Hungary....In view of renewed anti-Semitism on the political right, the question cannot yet be answered." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Synopsis" by , US
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