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The Color of Smoke


CUNY Graduate Center, New York City| 365 5th Ave
9th Floor Room 9206-07
October 1, 2015 | 7.45PM

New Europe Books, the Consulate General of Hungary and Balassi Institute present the book launch of
 The Color of Smoke, the gripping tale of one boy’s journey to manhood. The book, released for the first time in English, is clearly a forgotten classic by Menyhért Lakatos, a writer who came of age during World War II and presented an epic vision of his people, the Roma.

The book will be presented by special guests including Géza Rohrig, poet and lead actor of Cannes Grand Prix Winner ‘Son of Saul’, premiering in New York City in December 2015; Dr. Jack Greenberg, attorney and legal scholar, who argued forty civil rights cases before the US Supreme Court, including Brown v Board of Education; former Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, former Dean of Columbia College and Vice Dean of Columbia Law School and Sebastian Swett, who will be representing the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice.
Due to very limited seating, please don't forget to

For the first time in English, the gripping tale of one boy’s journey to manhood—a forgotten classic by a writer who came of age during World War II and presented an epic vision of his people, the Roma
An Epic Novel of the Roma
Menyhért Lakatos
Translated by Ann Major

“A rare, observant [...] snapshot of Romany life.”
                        -Kirkus Reviews

“The first novel in which a Gypsy himself depicts his people [...] with complete authenticity. [...] Characters, legends, customs, and Dionysian passions—brought to life superbly—are effortlessly treated in colorful episodes. [...] A one-of-a-kind coming-of-age novel.” 
          -Neue Zürcher Zeitung

“A gripping and important narrative of a subject obscured by myth and misconception. Thanks to Lakatos’s elegant work, ignorance regarding the fate of the Roma people is no longer an excuse for inaction on their behalf.”

          -Kati Marton, author of Paris: A Love Story

“Drawing richly on the fountain of his own youth, Menyhért Lakatos elevated the fate of Eastern Europe's Gypsies to the level of vision.” 
      -George Konrád, award-winning author of A Guest in My Own Country (National Jewish Book Award) and The Caseworker

“A literary masterpiece. [...] A story about struggling to survive among the Roma in an era of widespread fascism and the Nazi Holocaust. [...] Yet despite the grim foreboding of its period, The Color of Smoke is also a candid and vivid portrayal of young adult life. The adolescent narrator [...] participates in school, engages in sexual encounters, suffers hunger and police harassment, and confronts violence. A powerful, unforgettable portrayal of how society at large and the Nazis in particular dehumanized the Roma, The Color of Smoke is highly recommended.”
           -Midwest Book Review


SWEEPING US INTO THE WORLD OF THE ROMA in rural Hungary as fascism gathers force, THE COLOR OF SMOKE is a captivating story that abounds in unforgettable characters. Its adolescent narrator is torn between his people and a society that both entices him and rejects him. From his rise in school to his first sexual encounters, from the travails of hunger and cold to being harassed by gendarmes, he treads a precarious pathone marked by beauty and poignancy along with bawdiness, violence, and high adventure. 
By constructing an often cruel and yet magical cosmos of one of the world’s most dispossessed minority populations, THE COLOR OF SMOKE resonates with the vision of works by Toni Morrison and Garcia Marquez, and with the subject matter of Colum McCann’s Zoli and Louise Doughty’s Fires in the Dark. For readers who were riveted by Isabel Fonseca’s 1995 bestselling Bury Me Standing, this novel will find its place on their bookshelves as the ideal fictional counterpart of that work.
Menyhért Lakatos (Meñ-hayrt Lukutoshe) (1926–2007), Hungary’s preeminent Romani writer, was the award-winning author of nine books. He also achieved distinction as one of Europe’s leading Roma political leaders. The Color of Smoke, first published in 1975, has seen five editions in Hungary and has been translated into more than half a dozen languages.
Ann Major (1928–) is a noted translator of Hungarian and German books to English, her credits including Paul Lendvai’s The Hungarians and One Day That Shook the Communist World (Princeton University Press). The author of a memoir, A Carpet of Jacaranda (Sydney Jewish Museum, 2013), she lives in Lane Cove, Australia.
Paul Olchvary a noted translator of Hungarian literature whose work has appeared in the Paris Review and with publishers including New Directions, Harper Collins, and Houghton Mifflin is the publisher of New Europe Books, founded in 2012 and distributed by Penguin Random House. Its titles include The Devil Is a Black Dog: Stories from the Middle East and Beyond (“A master class in how to tell a war story.” Kirkus Reviews [starred review]), Keeping Bedlam at Bay in the Prague Café, Eastern Europe!, and The Essential Guide to Being Hungarian.


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