23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Péter Nádas

Péter Nádas was born Budapest in 1942. In the 1960s he was a photo reporter and journalist, and worked for »Nök Lapja« magazine and the daily »Pest Megyei Hirlap«.

At the age of 23 he gave his literary debut with »A biblia« (1967; tr.: The Bible). The novella about the Stalinist Rákosi regime already reveals Nádas’ subtle way of reflecting political and historical aspects in private scenes. Between 1969 and 1977 all his works were censored. Therefore, his first novel »Egy családregény vége« (1977; Eng. »The End of a Family Story«, 1998) was published very late. It is the story of a child and a totalitarian regime that haunts the young narrator even in his dreams. Nádas has the levels of time and reality merge, a narrative method, which he perfects in his subsequent works. The novelist became internationally known with »Emlékiratok könyve« (1986; Eng. »A Book of Memories«, 1997), a book on which he worked for eleven years, and which Susan Sontag called »the best novel of our times«. In an alienated literary mise en abyme the narrations of the first-person narrator overlap, duplicate, merge and flow into each other. The story is set in two cities that have been equally marked by ideologies: Berlin and Budapest. Nádas has published short stories, essays, theatre plays and illustrated books. Alongside his other writing, he was working on his opus magnum, which would go beyond the previous novel in terms of volume and complexity: »Párhuzamos történetek« (2005; Eng. »Parallel Stories«, 2011) begins with the discovery of a corpse in Berlin’s Tiergarten park a few weeks after the fall of the Wall, and covers the panorama of the whole century in three volumes. Chaos has become the principle of composition here. Plots are often interrupted abruptly, in order to continue hundreds of pages later. In »Parallel Stories« the author finds a language which, in its virtuosity, fits in with the bodily and intimate character of the book. Recent publications include his »Memoirs of a Narrator«, »Világló részletek« (2017; tr: Bright Details). In the account »Saját halál« (2004; Eng. »Own Death«, 2006), he describes his own near-death experience after a heart attack. The volume »Talát cetli és más elegyes írások« (1992; tr: Freedom Exercises and Other Small Prose) brings together miniatures from three decades.

Nádas received the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 1991, the Franz Kafka Literary Award in 2003, and the Würth Prize for European Literature (2014). For his last novel he and his translator Christina Viragh were awarded the Literature and Translation Prize »Brücke Berlin« 2012. Nádas lives in Gombosszeg and Budapest.