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Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy

Post Date: October 29, 2012 by admin

With their genesis in the Soviet siege and invasion of Nazi-controlled Budapest during the latter stages of the Second World War, Dobozy’s interlinked stories run the risk of overwhelming readers with the attrocities committed during one of the darkest periods in Hungary’s history, and the psychological and emotional effects on survivors.


The horror is there, but Dobozy’s skill as a writer transcends the brutality of rape, starvation, corruption, and scenes of children used as human shields by Nazi forces, and goes below the sinister surface to another realm where beauty, humour, and hope exists. In ‘The Restoration of the Villa Where Tíbor Kálmán Once Lived,’ we are left with a vision of Ági, the last survivor of her persecuted family, dancing and tilting a glass of pálinka to her lips.


The Szécsényi Club in Toronto provides a backdrop in several stories. In ‘The Beautician,’ the perversity of the caretaker, Árpád Holló, personifies survival strategies that still inhabit the lives of survivors. Holló’s make-up encrusted face, is a throwback to his masquerade as a homosexual to escape the wrath of his lover’s husband – a member of the communist Ministry of Culture. In unmasking Holló, the unnamed narrator confronts his own frailty, and the reader is left wondering whether anything is quite what it seems. A glimpse of what it must be like to live in a society where life is complex and suspicion always lurks around the corner.

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