Saturday, November 09, 2013

András Kepes Book Launch

To the Hungarian Cultural Centre, Covent Garden this week for the launch of a novel by the Hungarian TV personality, writer and film-maker András Kepes.

The Inflatable Buddha was first published in Hungary under the title Tövispuszta (2011)My friends at the arts and digital book publishing site Armadillo Central commissioned the Hungarian language expert Bernard Adams to translate the novel into English and the result is really quite something. Tövispuszta is already a bestseller in Hungary, where it has sold something like 80,000 copies. I had an advance proof of the translation and sped through it, thinking awards, awards, awards.

Mátyás Sárközi, András Kepes, Sharif Horthy, Mrs Horthy
It is the story of 20th Century Hungary told via the lives of 3 friends Pál, Isti and Dávid - an aristocrat, a peasant and a Jew. An epic tale of 20th Century Hungarian history told in a beautifully intimate way which is both profoundly sad and moving and laugh out loud funny. It is a good, fast literary read. The style reminded me a little of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa. It felt very special to be there at its English language edition birth.
Sharif Horthy introduces András Kepes

András was interviewed by Hungarian Holocaust survivor and former BBC World Service correspondent Mátyás Sárközi, and introduced by his friend Sharif Horthy, the grandson of the last Regent of Hungary. András explained that his aim was to somehow cut across the "cookie cutter" mentality that Hungarians cannot help but be a part of when it comes to the telling of the history of their country. If you come from one background you will have grown up with the telling of the history in one way; if you come from another background you will have grown up with the telling of the history in another way. András confirmed that, whilst the aristocratic character, Pál, is a blending of himself with his friend Sharif, amongst others, like most novelists, parts of him were also in many  characters. That readers from all different backgrounds are recognising "their" story in the story is testament to the skill of the author and the success of the book.

Ken Drury
Extracts were beautifully read by the actor Ken Drury, who has recently completed a long run in the West End play The Woman In Black. Bravo!
My meet the author moment -  photo c. Sylvia Selzer

If your bag is an absorbing, highly readable, epic tale told against the dramatic, tragic backdrop of 20th Century Hungarian history, of which I knew pitifully little before coming across this novel, I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Read the full synopsis at the US paperback sales site, for UK & international paperback sales go to Armadillo Central. The ebook and paperback are also on Amazon worldwide.

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