Notes from an Italian hermitage – despatches from BOLOGNA #3
Five great books set in Hungary
5th March 2019
Five great books set in Hungary is the latest in our ‘Five great books…’ series.
With a complex history and many different influences through the centuries, Hungary is now more settled politically, socially and financially than for much of its dark past. The country’s 10 million people punch well above their collective weight in so many ways, and Hungary’s cultural past is but a small piece of this overall national picture.
The capital Budapest sits astride the Danube and benefits from significant levels of tourism, but don’t miss the opportunity to explore outside of the city.
Here are five books from the TripFiction database that hopefully give a sense of this intriguing, historical Middle European country:
The acclaimed travel writer’s youthful journey – as an 18-year-old – across 1930s Europe by foot began inA Time of Gifts, which covered the author’s exacting journey from the Lowlands as far as Hungary.
Picking up from the very spot on a bridge across the Danube where his readers last saw him, we travel on with him across the great Hungarian Plain on horseback, and over the Romanian border to Transylvania.
The trip was an exploration of a continent which was already showing signs of the holocaust which was to come. Although frequently praised for his lyrical writing, Fermor’s account also provides a coherent understanding of the dramatic events then unfolding in Middle Europe. But the delight remains in travelling with him in his picaresque journey past remote castles, mountain villages, monasteries and towering ranges.
A dark, riveting, and lightning fast novel of murder, intrigue, and political corruption, set in 1936 Hungary during the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, Budapest Noir marks the emergence of an extraordinary new voice in literary crime fiction, Vilmos Kondor.
Kondor’s remarkable debut brings this European city to breathtaking life–from the wealthy residential neighborhoods of Buda to the slums of Pest–as it follows crime reporter Zsigmond Gordon’s investigation into the strange death of a beautiful woman. As Gordon’s search for the truth leads him to shocking revelations about a seedy underground crime syndicate and its corrupt political patrons, Budapest Noir will transport you to a dark time and place, and hold you there spellbound until the final page is turned.
When Natalie and Anna, sisters and life-long rivals, hide an abandoned child from the Nazis, their deception resurrects the scars of a star-crossed love triangle that threats their safety and tests the bonds of their loyalty.
Hungary’s fragile alliance with Germany ensured that Natalie, a renowned children’s book author, and her family would be safe as the war raged through Europe. But, as the Führer’s desperation grows in the waning years of the conflict, neighbors now become traitors.
Beautiful but troubled Anna, poet and university professor, is losing her tenuous hold on reality, re-igniting a sibling rivalry that began with a poetry contest in childhood. It boils over when Deszo, Anna’s unrequited love, re-enters their lives with a promise of safety.
As the streets of Budapest thrum with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers, danger creeps to the doorstep and the sisters’ disintegrating relationship threatens to expose the child they are trying to protect. In one night, Anna’s rash behavior destroys their carefully made plans of escape, and Natalie is presented with a desperate decision.
Interwoven with Natalie and Anna’s story, is Mila’s, the abandoned child whose future Natalie lovingly imagines in a story called Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure.
A story that takes on a life of its own fifty years later.
A group of American expats en route to adventure, inspiration, or perhaps even history-in-the-making in Prague, somehow get sidetracked and settle instead for the enigmatic city of Budapest.
Arriving in Hungary’s capital to pursue his elusive brother, journalist John Price finds himself drawn into the din of Budapest’s nightclubs, a romance with a secretive young diplomat, the table of an elderly cocktail pianist, and the moody company of a young man obsessed with nostalgia, all in a bid to forget the larger questions that arise in a city still pocked with bullet holes from war and crushed rebellion.
With humour, intelligence and masterly prose, Phillips captures the character of his contemporaries and brilliantly renders a very weird ‘modern’ city.
Tibor Fischer’s hilarious first novel follows the adventures of two young Hungarian basketball players through the turbulent years between the end of World War II and the revolution of 1956.
In this spirited indictment of totalitarianism, the two improbable heroes, Pataki and Gyuri, travel the length and breadth of Hungary in an epic quest for food, lodging, and female companionship.
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
Do you know any other books set firmly in HUNGARY to add to our database? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below, and remember that you can buy any of these books through TripFiction by clicking on the bookseller links on any book icon.
Check the TripFiction Database for our full range of books set in Hungary.
Other posts in our ‘Five great books set in…’ series:
And our ‘Ten great books set in…’ series includes: