Ádám Bodor

Ádám Bodor was born in 1936 in the Transylvanian city of Cluj (today Cluj-Napoca in Romania). Personal experiences with religious and cultural diversity, working poverty and the political mindset of his parents influenced the writer and his work. In opposition to the communist government even in his youth, Bodor believed that his region Transylvania should be independent until he was arrested by the Romanian Securitate at the age of seventeen. From 1955 he studied Protestant theology at the University of Cluj but feeling that the church was not for him, worked first as an archivist and translator and then as a lecturer and editor.

After Bodor had already written some short stories and published in Romanian newspapers, he celebrated with a collection of short stories under the title »A tanú« (1969, tr: The Last Witness) marking his debut as a freelance writer. In 1991 he became more widely known by winning a contest in the magazine »Holmi«. This outstanding novella formed the basis for his first novel, »Sinistra körzet«(1992), which two years later became the first of the author’s work to be translated into German (»Schutzgebiet Sinistra«). The inhabitants living in the fictional protectorate which Bodor created are not strident but always appear as allegories, exposing with grim irony the corrupting mechanisms of totalitarian political systems that have been deeply rooted in the mentality of Eastern European countries. He also exposes the absurd reality of »Ceauçescu’s surreal Socialism« (»Die Zeit«), after the publication of which he fled to Hungary. In the text an epidemic of »Tungus Fever« in the Sinistra Protectorate is summarily rescheduled for the following year. In 1999, Bodor’s second novel, »Az érsek látogatása« (tr. The Visit of the Archbishop) concerns a man who waits patiently in a Carpathian village to transfer the mortal remains of his father before his original resting place is bulldozed to make way for the visiting dignitary. In a »distressing and oppressive atmosphere that could exist only in the most desolate corner of Europe« (Ammann Verlag) the main character is an inhabitant of the village as well as member of the local bureaucracy who gradually comes into money and hope. In his most recently published book, »A börtön szaga« (2001, tr. The Smell of the Prison), Bodor recounts not only by his experiences as a prisoner but also how he came to write.Among the many accolades received by Bodor, the Kossuth Prize (2003) is the highest national award in Hungary for art and culture. Since 1982 Ádám Bodor has lived in Budapest, Hungary.