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Publishing Hungary, an organization whose goal is to facilitate the translation and publication of recent Hungarian literature abroad presents Hungarian Literature in Focus on December 9th at Bartók Hall, located at the Consulate General of Hungary in mid-town Manhattan.  From Imre Kertész' Nobel prize in literature to László Krasznahorkai's Man Booker prize, the new millennium has seen Hungarian literature find recognition that defies the inaccessibility of the language, notoriously difficult to learn. A series of fine translations have been making one of the great undiscovered bodies of literature become more visible to English speaking readers.  On December 9th, Hungarian Literature in Focus presents a unique opportunity to discover more of the popular, established or up and coming authors as well as the existing frameworks of talent management and translation funding in the country.

Five very different authors, including the protagonist of Academy Award-winning film Son of Saul Géza Röhrig, leading literary agent and publishing house CEO Bence Sárközy and the head of the foreign language funding scheme Publishing Hungary Zsuzsanna Szabó will be on hand to guide guests through the best and boldest in new Hungarian literature, present the talent available and provide information on recent publishing deals and Hungarian and European successes whose English language rights remain available.


6 PM - Bartók Hall (public event)
Featuring the launch of The Dispossessed by Szilárd Borbély (HarperCollins) translated by Ottilie Mulzet, the presentation of the new issue of The Hungarian Quarterly and a panel discussion on recent developments in Hungarian literature

8 PM - Breuer Hall (public reception)
Official New Literature from Europe festival reception featuring 14 authors from 13 countries and representatives of European cultural institutes in New York.


Winner of a 2014 Lucie Award and making its NYC debut, Anna Tihanyi’s set piece photography series Berlin bhf., features 10 artistic photographs created around the same number of texts by Hungarian authors about Berlin. This gorgeous series—which at the same time riffs on the texts inspiring the individual photographs with humor and insight—caused a stir at its European showings.  Berlin has been a destination for Hungarian authors much like it has been to music stars in the English speaking world and it inspired scores of literary tributes. The beauty of the series rests in the freedom with which the photography does not seek to represent the written word, rather it serves as a point of departure in Tihanyi's creation of incredible set pieces.

A literary sensation on its original publication in Hungary, this hypnotic, hauntingly beautiful first novel from the acclaimed, award-winning poet and author Szilárd Borbély depicts the poverty and cruelty experienced by a partly-Jewish family in a rural village in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Nicole Henneberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote, “No one has ever written so beautifully and at the same time so without pity about the suffering in the isolated provincial villages of Hungary…His sentences have a surgical precision, and their sustained rhythm only reinforces the power of what they evoke." The novel was translated to English by Ottilie Mulzet. 

The Hungarian Quarterly was the preeminent window into new and definitive work published in Hungary. After a recent hiatus, the periodical is being relaunched, drawing on its history stretching back three quarters of a century as well as a slew of talent presenting new work previously not available in English. Win a peek into the best new texts from Hungary with excerpts from works by Booker Prize recipient László Krasznahorkai, György Dragomán whose 2008 novel The White King was rave reviewed in both The Washington Post and The New York Times and Andrea Tompa, who will be present in person. The issue contains pieces by a score of other authors including György Spiró, whose Captivity was listed among the best books of 2015 by The Wall Street Journal.

Krisztina Tóth ranks among the best known and most widely read contemporary authors in Hungary, whose work has been recognized by a host of organizations. She was born in 1967, and started out as a student of fine arts, specifically sculpture, before switching to literature at the university. She spent two years in Paris during her college years, a period which left a profound mark on her interests and art. She currently resides in Budapest, is a noted translator of French literature into Hungarian, and teaches creative writing. Her published works include ten volumes of poetry and six volumes of prose. Her novel Aquarium was shortlisted last year for the Internationaler Literaturpreis. Her works have been translated into over ten languages, her prose is currently available in German, French, Polish, Finnish, Swedish, Czech and Spanish. Some of her best known poetry is available in English inter alia in the prize-winning translation of Owen Good, recently some of her short stories from the acclaimed volume Pixel have also been selected for inclusion in Dalkey Archive Press's Best European Fiction 2016. Her contribution to children’s literature has attracted attention with the freshness of its voice, humor and willingness to take on taboo topics of the genre. Mum’s Operation tells the story to primary school students of cancer impacting a family, while her Tale of the Blowing of the Nose stars two boogers, one in the left, the other in the right nostril. Her latest collection of poetry, World Adapter was published in 2016.

Gábor T. Szántó
lives in Budapest and belongs to the third generation of postwar Jewish Hungarian writers, who appeared in the literary life of Hungary after a period of silence about Jewishness. In his books, Szántó writes mostly about the life, assimilation and generation gaps of Central European Jews, a life world marked by the torture suffered at the hands of subsequent far right and far left dictatorships. A lawyer and political scientist by training, Szántó made a name for himself as a productive author and commentator on issues related to the Jewish "renaissance" that unfolded in the region - an ambivalent process he has been observing, voicing both support and criticism. He is the editor-in-chief of the Hungarian Jewish cultural and political monthly Szombat, founded in 1989. Since 2008 he has also taught Modern Jewish Literature in college. He published his first volume of stories, A tizedik ember (The Tenth Man), in 1995. A volume of two novellas, Mószer (The Informer) appeared in 1997. Szántó published a novel in 2003, titled Keletipályaudvar, végállomás (Eastern Station, Last Stop). His second short story volume Lágermikulás (The Crunch of Empty Boots) was published in 2004 followed by a collection of poems. His latest novel, Kafka macskái (Kafka's Cats) appeared in 2014. His works have also been published in German, Russian and, more recently in English, including various anthologies and The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization (Yale University Press), as well as excerpts in Tablet and Moments. In the works is the first feature film adaptation (working title: 1945) of one of his short stories (Homecoming), with a score by noted contemporary artist, Tibor Szemző, shot by cinematography legend Elemér Ragályi (known for Jacob the Liar and scores of other films) and directed by Ferenc Török (Moszkvatér, Overnight).

Géza Röhrig
is a former punk rock musician of the band Huckleberry, a graduate of the Academy of Film and Theater in Budapest, protagonist of the Academy Award winning Son of Saul (Best Foreign Film, 2016), but is first and foremost a poet and writer. Orphaned at the age of four, Röhrig was adopted several years later from an orphanage in Budapest by Jewish family friends in Hungary; and in 2000 he came to America. He studied Polish literature in Krakow before living in Jerusalem, and moving to New York’s Upper West side to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Throughout these years, he built in a reputation in Hungary as a deeply reflective voice on issues of memory, responsibility and Jewishness, a wonderful storyteller of Hassidic lore and a philosopher-poet with over half a dozen volumes under his belt.  Since his debut Hamvasztókönyv (Book of Incineration) and Fogság (Captivity) established his reputation in 1995 and 1997, respectively, he has gone on to publish several other volumes of poetry, continuing his lyrical experiment of  mastering history, most recently attested to by the 2016 book az ember aki a cipőjében hordta a gyökereit (the man who carried his roots in his shoes). A keynote speaker at the Conrad Festival in Krakow in 2016, he resides in New York City, and is currently working on material related to the fate of the Roma in the Holocaust.

Andrea Tompa was born in 1971 in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), where she also attended university and gained her degrees in Hungarian and Russian literature. For the past decade and the half, she has lived and worked in Budapest as a theater critic, whose pieces are considered definitive for the revival of the genre in Hungary. She has worked for the Museum and Institute of Theater History, was the editor of the periodical Színház (Theater) and is its current editor in chief. She has returned to her native city as a lecturer at the Theater and Television School of the Babes-Bolyai University, as well. From 2009 to 2015 she was the head of the largest association of theater critics in Hungary. Her breakthrough as a novelist in 2010 came as a surprise to the general public. Her novel A hóhér háza (The Hangman's House) became one of the great literary events of the year, with subsequent European translations of the book adding to her reputation. Her second novel, Fejtől s lábtól (From Top to Tail) cemented her standing as one of the most suggestive voices in Hungarian literature, with foreign editions of the second, multiple-award winning book also forthcoming.

Benedek Totth was born in 1977 in Kaposvár. He is a noted translator of literature – among others, he has translated novels by Cormac McCarthy, Aldous Huxley, Chuck Palahniuk and Hunter S. Thompson. Before garnering fame as an author, has already achieved great recognition as the representative of a new school of translators devoted to much greater fidelity to the original text and painstakingly working through options to avoid making the foreign author's text become "native" in the translation language, seeking to preserve its original and culturally distinct character.  He works in publishing as an editor, abandonning a career in competitive swimming for it. His years as a youth athlete inspired his first breakthrough novel, Holtverseny (Dead Heat), which made him an overnight sensation credited with subverting the genre of the thriller and the adolescent novel in one coup. A film version is currently in the works. Benedek Totth currently resides in Bratislava, Slovakia and is working on his second volume.


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