Ferenc Szijj

Ferenc Szijj was born in Szombathely, Hungary, in 1958.  From 1978 to 1984 he studied Hungarian Studies and German Language and Literature at the József Attila University in Szeged.  After concluding his studies, he taught German at high school level, worked as a librarian at the university library in Budapest, and in 1989 became editor of the literary magazine ‘Nappali Ház’. After the magazine was discontinued in 1999, Szijj edited an internet magazine. In 1990 he published his first book of poetry ‘A lassú élet titka’ in Budapest, later followed by his collection of short stories ‘A futás napja’ (1992), which attained cult status in Hungary.  His two collections of poetry ‘A nagy salakmezõ’ (1997) and ‘Kéregtorony’ (1999) were published in German under the title of ‘Sturzlicht’ in 2005.

In an interview Szijj says that he would have liked to have become an engine driver or a soccer player – but his weak eyes forced him to earn his living under bad lighting conditions: by writing.  He adds: “I do not feel like a real poet, one who writes poem after poem and can only think in terms of poetry.  I was never particularly interested in the perfect stylistic form.  I would even go as far as to say grammatical correctness doesn’t really interest me today – although, if it doesn’t sound too immodest, I now know a lot about grammar and language usage – as a user.” In 2001 he published the fairytale book ‘Szuromberek királyfi’ (Engl: Prince Szuromberek), which was humorously illustrated by Gabór Roskó, the cartoonist from the weekly literary magazine ‘Élet és Irodalom’. Szijj has also translated German writers such as Kafka, Gregor von Rezzori, and W. G. Sebald into Hungarian. He has received many awards for his literary work, including various scholarships, the Tibor Déry Prize in 2000 as well as the Attila József Prize in 2001. The author lives as a freelance writer in Budapest.

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