Synopses & Reviews
An international sensation, this startling and heartbreaking debut introduces us to precocious eleven-year-old Djata, whose life in the totalitarian state he calls home is about to change forever.
Djata doesn't know what to make of the two men who lead his father away one day, nor does he understand why his mother bursts into tears when he brings her tulips on her wedding anniversary. He does know that he must learn to fill his father's shoes, even though among his friends he is still a boy: fighting with neighborhood bullies, playing soccer on radioactive grass, having inappropriate crushes, sneaking into secret screening rooms, and shooting at stray cats with his gun-happy grandfather. But the random brutality of Djata's world is tempered by the hilarious absurdity of the situations he finds himself in, by his enduring faith in his father's return, and by moments of unexpected beauty, hope, and kindness.
Structured as a series of interconnected stories propelled by the energy of Dragoman's riveting prose, the chapters of The White King collectively illuminate the joys and humiliations of growing up, while painting a multifaceted and unforgettable portrait of life in an oppressive state and its human cost. And as in the works of Mark Haddon, David Mitchell, and Marjane Satrapi, Djata's child's-eye view lends power and immediacy to his story, making us laugh and ache in recognition and reminding us all of our shared humanity.
"While Dragomán stumbles at times in his handling of dialog and the long, out-of-control sentences an attempt to replicate the breathless flow of preadolescent activity the novel holds up on the strength of its characters and wealth of memorable scenes." Library Journal
"Though undeniably powerful in its politics, this books true beauty is its lucid prose and moments of dark hilarity." Booklist
"Dark comedy and enveloping tragedy converge in this powerfully disturbing novel." Kirkus Reviews
"Published in more than 20 countries, The White King
is a collection of connected short stories inspired by Dragomán's experiences during the 1980s. The narrator, 11-year-old Djata, is a resilient but sensitive boy living in a world that seems designed by Joseph Stalin and Roald Dahl. Dragomán creates a nostalgic childhood, full of the games and pranks that mischievous scamps have always pursued...but in the dark days of Ceausescu's police state, the atmosphere is so poisoned, physically and psychologically, that boys' make-believe dangers constantly risk becoming deadly." Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
About the Author
György Dragomán is thirty-four years old. A Beckett scholar and film critic, he has also translated works by Beckett, Joyce, Ian McEwan, Irvine Welsh, and Mickey Donnelly into Hungarian. Awarded Hungary's prestigious Sándor Márai Prize, The White King, translated from Hungarian by Paul Olchváry, is loosely based on Dragomán's experiences growing up in 1980s Romania under Ceausescu. He lives in Budapest with his wife, a poet, and their two young sons.