Monday, November 12, 2012

A Hungarian Trio

No, this is not a Bartok trio, but a serendipitous exploration of events and lives. How did it happen that I have started three books this week that feature Hungary as a main character? Will I be able to read them all in parallel? Will themes and variations in each of them contribute to my overall understanding of Hungarian history and even my own Eastern European heritage? Only time will tell, but after reading the first 50 pages of each of them, I am already enthralled.

I’ve had my eye on Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy for a few weeks now. It is a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award this year, and a few days ago it won the Rogers Writers’ Trust. I predict that it will also win the G.G. The cover is irresistible,  hinting at both sweet wonder and impending darkness. It is thirteen linked short stories that animate the terrible post-war period.

I started Frank Hasenfratz’ story, Driven to Succeed by Rod McQueen, a couple of weeks ago. McQueen is one of Canada’s most respected business writers, and of course Hasenfratz is the founder of Linamar, Guelph’s global success story. Frank and his family endured the war and then suffered incredibly in post-war Hungary. This is truly a story that novels are built around. It is compelling reading and I am thrilled to announce that both Frank and Rod will be presenting at The Bookshelf Cinema on December 8 at 1 p.m.

And then I came across Louis Menand’s review of Anne Applebaum’s new book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956. Applebaum had won the Pulitzer Prize for her book Gulag. How could I resist? Now all I need is a few more hours in the day where both my eyes and my brain can capture what these intriguing books are offering me.

- Barb

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