Primarily a piece of creative writing and autobiographical literature of a very distinctive Central European kind, this detailed and imaginative short memoir is also an important document of the Holocaust in Hungary in 1944. The Smell of Humans relates the events following the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, before concentrating on the author's own three-week internment in a forced-labour camp. This vivid and detailed portrayal of events reflects Hungary's, and indeed Europe's, historical legacy, the stark reality of which people still struggle to come to terms with today.
An acknowledged masterpiece of twentieth-century Hungarian fiction, Dezsõ Kosztolányi's Skylark is a portrait of provincial life in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at the turn of the century. Set in the autumn of 1899, it focuses on one extraordinary week in the otherwise uneventful lives of an elderly Hungarian couple. Their ugly spinster daughter, nicknamed Skylark, has left them for an unprecedented holiday with relatives in the country. At first the couple, whose entire existence revolves around their daughter, are devastated by her absence. Slowly, however, they rediscover the delights and diversions of small-town society life, finally reaching the shocking conclusion that their daughter is a burden to them.
"The most original, economical and
painful novel I have read in a long time."
Victoria Glendinning in The Times