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Charged with Humanity: Six Hungarian Women Writers

March 2018

Image: Maria Chilf, "Homesickness for an Unknown Landscape" (detail), 2009, mixed technique, chemical protective clothing, shoes, gloves, plastic, wood. Courtesy of the artist and VILTIN Galéria.

This month we present writing by six Hungarian women writers. Informed by multiple linguistic and international traditions, and blending interdisciplinary artistic and critical expertise, these writers rank among the most acclaimed in Hungary today. Zsófia Bán gets under the skin of a Nobel laureate’s discovery. Réka Mán-Várhegyi heads to the pitch with a woman who finds herself mysteriously turned into Lionel Messi. Kinga Tóth interrogates illness through imagery. Zsuzsa Selyem channels the despair of a homeless prostitute ravaged by time and alcohol. Edina Szvoren eavesdrops on a strained mother-daughter encounter. And Krisztina Tóth plants the seeds of a classic cross-cultural (and cross-culinary) miscommunication. We thank our guest editors, Ágnes Orzóy and Erika Mihálycsa.

Open to Disagreement: Six Contemporary Hungarian Women Writers
By Erika Mihálycsa
An important slice of recent Hungarian writing is indebted to the literature of the 1980s and ’90s that subverts the ideological remainders entrenched in language.
Lionel Messi kicking a ball
Jimmy Baikovicius from Montevideo, Uruguay, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Woman Striker Has Killer Left Foot
By Réka Mán-Várhegyi
One sweltering summer morning, I wake up to find I’m Lionel Messi.
Translated from Hungarian by Owen Good
The Tongue’s Story
By Krisztina Tóth
It’s because we don’t speak their language. That’s why they’re defiling our food.
Translated from Hungarian by Owen Good
Frau Röntgen’s Hand
By Zsófia Bán
Oh God. The woman has vaporized.
Translated from Hungarian by Jim Tucker
Moonlight Faces
By Kinga Tóth
it can end whenever, wherever.
Translated from Hungarian by Kinga Tóth & Owen Good
That Little Strip of Sunshine
By Zsuzsa Selyem
By the time I’d answered all his questions I recognized him: János Hell.
Translated from Hungarian by Jim Tucker & Erika Mihálycsa
Working Name: Person
By Edina Szvoren
My parents know more about the Qahatika Indians than about my son.
Translated from Hungarian by Jim Tucker