The novel begins with the death and funeral of a mother, told from the viewpoint of a son. The reader meets other family members, including the father, a sister and a brother. This portion of the work drifts back and forth in time, putting together a history of the family and relationships among its members.

Abruptly, the viewpoint drifts to that of the mother, who tells her secret story--glimpses of her past, memories that come as a surprise in the face of the impressions gained from the opening narrative. Finally, the story returns to the last days of the mother's life, and the power of her love for her son, who once again assumes the role of narrator, as well as the loss of the inhibitions between the two.


The narrative in this most interestingly presented tale is interwoven with quotations from Albert Camus, Saint Paul and many others, creating both a troublesome distraction and immensely rich variations on the author's theme. A somewhat difficult read the first time through, when reexamined the text begins to create a profound resonance with the complexity of the issues of death of a parent and the relationships that are brought into sharp focus by this event. In addition to the universality of the drama surrounding the death of a parent, this little novel gives the reader a unique opportunity to consider the culture of pre-and post-war Hungary.


First published in 1985. Translated by Michael Henry Heim; introduction by Richard Aczel.


Corvina Books

Place Published

Budapest, Hungary



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