László Darvasi was born in the small town of Törökszentmiklós near Budapest in 1962. He spent most of his life in Szeged, a university city in the south of the country close to the Serbian border. In 1986 he gained a teaching diploma at the University of Szeged and taught at various elementary schools until 1986. After thie, he began to write, at first as a journalist for a local daily newspaper; today he still writes soccer articles, television reviews, and features for this paper. In 1990 he co-founded the literary magazine ‘Pompeji’. Since 1993 he has been the editor of the Budapest weekly newspaper ‘Élet és Irodalom’ (t: Life and Literature). In 1991 Darvasi published his first book of poetry, which was followed by a rapid succession of prose pieces, including stories, novellas, and the novel ‘A könnymutatványosok legendája’ (1999; t: The Legend of the Tear Showmen). The novel and its German translation were awarded the Brücke Berlin Prize.
His texts have been translated into German and seven other languages. He has received various awards for his literary work, including the scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service and the Füst Milan Prize. Today Darvasi lives as a freelance writer in Szeged and Budapest.
‘The Legend of the Tear Showmen’, which was influenced by the Balkan wars, collects episodes from the years when Turkey occupied Hungary in the 16th and 17th centuries. Against the background of Islamic, Christian, and Talmudic writings, historical facts surface where the focus is not on history’s great figures but on five mysterious figures, who with a rickety vehicle travel through a world which, despite the historical framework, is oddly timeless. They are the tear showmen who as show people travel through the country and cry for those who are suffering. A burlesque joy in narration propels forward a fascinating richness in imagery and an impressive variety of characters and actions which the author brings together, thereby creating a network of sorrow that is as fairytale-like as it is dreadful. This year Germany has seen the publication of two prose collections in which Darvasi continues to move between realism and fantasy as well as through various time periods, while unceasingly speaking out against violence in the world. In ‘The Dog-Hunters of Lo-Yang’, the author places the image of totalitarian rule in the context of an imaginary, older China, which, in its parable-like quality, is suddenly very contemporary. On the other hand, ‘Getting a Woman’ is set against a backdrop which, although borrowed from the Bosnian war, is nonetheless surreal; the book is about the cruelty of war.
© international literature festival berlin