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NLE 2015

ABOUT NLE

“So much of publishing literature from around the world is based on friendships–knowing people and talking with them about books. The New Literature from Europe Festival brings great writers to New York year after year; awards prizes to such great translators as Philip Boehm; and introduces us to new authors and new friends. And, as Charlie Brown from the Peanuts says, ‘I need all the friends I can get.’ ” – Barbara Epler, Publisher, New Directions

 

The New Literature from Europe Festival is an annual celebration of writing from across the European continent. Featuring readings and discussions between leading and emerging literary voices from Europe, and some of America’s foremost writers and critics, the Festival celebrates important new European literature in translation. Founded in 2003, the NLE Festival has quickly become one of New York City’s top literature in translation events, attracting award-winning, best-selling and new authors from many diverse European countries each year. The NLE Festival is jointly organized by the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and New York-based European cultural institutes. Most Festival events are free and open to the public. Join us on November 6-8 for this year’s Festival and follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for updates.

CLICK HERE for PROGRAM and more info.

FEATURED HUNGARIAN AUTHOR

Novelist, poet, radio dramatist, playwright, and critic György Spiró, was born in 1946 in Budapest. He is widely regarded as one of the most important contemporary Hungarian writers of our time. His dramas and comedies have become some of the most significant theatrical events in Hungary in the last decade. He is the author of seven novels, collections of short stories, volumes of essays, and numerous award winning plays, including several for best Hungarian drama of the year. Amongst other prizes, György Spiró has been awarded the Kossuth Prize, the Attila József Prize, the Hungarian Theatre Critics’ Prize, and the Tibor Déry Prize.  Currently he teaches at ELTE University of Budapest, where he specializes in Slavic literature.

FEATURED HUNGARIAN NOVEL
Captivity by György Spiró
Translated from the Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson
Winner of the 2006 Aegon Literary Award


"With the novel Captivity, Spiró proves that he is well-versed in both historical and human knowledge. It appears that in our times, it is playfulness that is expected of literary works, rather than the portrayal of realistic questions and conflicts. As if the two, playfulness and seriousness were inconsistent with each other! On the contrary (at least for me) playfulness begins with seriousness. Literature is a serious game. So is Spiró’s novel."
                                      — Imre Kertész, Nobel Prize-winning author of Fatelessness

A literary sensation in Hungary, György Spiró’s Captivity is a gripping page-turner, a masterful historical epic, and a riotous road novel. Set in the tumultuous first century A.D., Captivity recounts the adventures of Uri, a bookish, hapless, young Roman Jew.

Frustrated with his feeble-bodied son, Uri’s father sends the young man to the Holy Land to bolster the family’s prestige. Suspected of spying in Jerusalem, Uri is imprisoned by Herod and shares a cell with Jesus (whom Spiró reimagines as a balding, middle-aged man) immediately before his crucifixion. Later, in cosmopolitan Alexandria, Uri undergoes a radical spiritual and carnal awakening before barely escaping a pogrom. Back in Rome, he joins the fight for justice on behalf of Alexandria’s butchered and displaced Jews. The campaign embroils Uri in the murderous, conspiratorial, and sex-fueled world of Imperial politics and gives him a front-row seat to the megalomaniacal reign and downfall of the emperor Caligula.

With the scope and pathos of Robert Graves’s I, Claudius, and the sly satire of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Captivity is equal parts Homeric epic, brilliantly researched Jewish history, and picaresque adventure, combined into an unforgettable dramatic tale of fate, family, and fortitude.

REVIEWS

"With the novel Captivity, Spiró proves that he is well-versed in both historical and human knowledge. It appears that in our times, it is playfulness that is expected of literary works, rather than the portrayal of realistic questions and conflicts. As if the two, playfulness and seriousness were inconsistent with each other! On the contrary (at least for me) playfulness begins with seriousness. Literature is a serious game. So is Spiró’s novel."
                                      — Imre Kertész, Nobel Prize-winning author of Fatelessness

“György Spiró presents a theory in novelistic form about the interwovenness of religion and politics, lays bare the inner workings of power, and gives insight into the art of survival…. This book is an incredible page turner; it reads easily and avidly like the greatest bestsellers while also going as deep as the greatest thinkers of European philosophy.”
                                      — Aegon Literary Award 2006 jury recommendation

“Uri, the hero of Spiró's enormous novel, is a Jewish Candide, although the scope of his exploits suggests more of a naive Don Quixote type.… Deliberate, evocative and richly detailed. Spiró's elaborate style reflects Uri's acute observation, with the hint of a wink at the reader.… Spiró, a Hungarian man of letters, juxtaposes the prosaic and the significant with aplomb and offers a cheeky, unique view of history through the eyes of his modest everyman. A thoroughly impressive literary feat.”
                                      — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Like the authors of so many great novels, György Spiró sends his hero, Uri, out into the wide world. Uri is a Roman Jew born into a poor family, and the wide world is an overripe civilization—the Roman Empire. Captivity can be read as an adventure novel, a Bildungsroman, a richly detailed portrait of an era, and a historico-philosophical parable. The long series of adventures—in which it is only a tiny episode that Uri is imprisoned together with Jesus and the two thieves—suggest at once the vanity of human endeavors and a passion for life. A masterpiece."
                                      — László Márton

“A novel of education and a novel of adventure that brings to life ancient Rome, Alexandria, and Jerusalem with a vividness of detail that is stunning. Spiró’s prose is crisp and colloquial, the kind of prose that aims for precision rather than literary thrills. A serious and sophisticated novel that is also engrossing and highly readable is a rare thing. Captivity is such a novel.”
                                      — Ivan Sanders, Columbia University

“Impossibly engrossing from the very first page…. Building on a huge volume of reference material, the novel rings true from both a historical and a literary point of view.”
                                      — Magda Ferch, Magyar Nemzet

“A visceral new form of epic history. Here mountains of trivia form vivid landscapes and academic minutiae open windows into the soul of a forgotten age. It is a work of fiction, though, and it is hilarious.... Spiró’s serious accomplishment is to challenge the chilling observation, popularly attributed to Stalin, that “one death is a tragedy and one million deaths a statistic” by breathing life into the neglected statistics of a magnificent—and terrifying, brutal—age.… An intently philosophical book.… Captivity expresses historical ideas authentically.… As an award-winning author, Spiró displays predictable creativity, but the real power of Captivity is the ability the extensive historical detail lends the reader to inhabit and empathize with ancient life. It is difficult to imagine a more entertaining way to realize so much data, and it is wonderful that Spiró has managed such an accomplishment. His technique is a welcome innovation for historical fiction in general, and perhaps the drollest scholarly introduction to the first century yet.”
                                      — Jewish Book Council

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in 1946 in Budapest, award-winning dramatist, novelist, and translator György Spiró has earned a reputation as one of postwar Hungary’s most prominent and prolific literary figures. He teaches at ELTE University of Budapest, where he specializes in Slavic literatures.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Tim Wilkinson gave up his job in the pharmaceutical industry to translate Hungarian literature and history. He is the primary translator of Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertész. Wilkinson’s translation of Kertész’s Fatelessness won the PEN/Book of the Month Club Translation Prize in 2005.

 

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