A magisterial cocktail of wit, joyfulness, paranoia and vivid humanity, where superstition and conspiracy collide with little league in a brilliant rollercoaster through the American psyche. Raw colours and beautifully written.
“The lost cause, it's a fever that burns in the Hungarian soul”. Faded Mitteleuropäische café culture, tones of Kodály, Bartók, of coffee and pálinka, set the elegant backdrop to this tragic story of broken humanity. Vivid characterisations, with clear biographical undertones, shape the evolving relationships of the nascent activists, from their first artfully shifting round the black market margins of the brutal state, then standing four-square before its heavy artillery. In the corridors of bruises and broken ribs, the ÁVH (secret police) interject into Horvath's intricate and pastel human narrative of rural family gatherings and urban literary friends, the cold savagery of a system whose suffocating suspicion lends a substratum of fear to daily human encounter. From the boldness of Béla's failed heroism with the student protestors against the Soviet tanks, to the desperate flight of Gizi and infant Elek to the West, this historical novel interjects into the little lives of its protagonists the high machinations of the men of power, the betrayal of a people by their promises, and the spirit of human grace and kindness in the face of impossible odds.