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A linguist flying to a conference in Helsinki has landed in a strange city where he can't understand a word anyone says. As one claustrophobic day follows another, he wonders why no one has found him yet, whether his wife has given him up for dead, and how he'll get by in this society that looks so familiar, yet is so strange. In a vision of hell, unlike any previously imagined, Budai must learn to survive in a world where words and meaning are unconnected. This is a suspenseful and haunting Hungarian classic.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 279 pages
  • 130 x 196 x 22mm | 140g
  • Telegram Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1846590345
  • 9781846590344
  • 105,810

Review quote

'A masterpiece.' Magazine Litteraire'A stunning novel.' Liberation'With time, Metropole will find its due place in the twentieth-century library, on the same shelf as The Trial and 1984.'G. O. Chateaureynaud

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About Ferenc Karinthy

Ferenc Karinthy was born in Budapest in 1921. He obtained a PhD in linguistics, and went on to be a translator and editor, as well as an award-winning novelist, playwright, journalist and water polo champion. He wrote over a dozen novels. This is the first novel to be translated into English.

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Customer reviews

Any number of modern, nightmarish novels are given the epithet of 'Kafkaesque', but most contemporary writers pale in comparison to the truly disturbing, oppressive, claustrophic and dark fiction of Kafka himself. Well, in the modern Hungarian, Ferenc Karinthy (himself the son of a famous Hungarian satirist/novelist/journalist) and his novel, Metropole, you find a truly worthy successor to Kafka, in particular his most famous work, The Trial (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature), but also - for its equally claustrophic, trapped sense of nightmare without end, his most famous short story, The Metamorphosis (Dover Thrift). The plot is, as with Kafka's work, straightforward; but it's in the novel's machinations, the relentless trial and tribulations of his character - here, Budai, a multi-lingual linguist - comparable to Joseph K.'s in The Trial, that you find yourself as a reader drawn in and ever downwards; conjoined with Budai's viewpoint on his world of suffering, alienation and incomprehension at arriving in a country and city that is massively, suffocatingly overpopulated and whose language he doesn't recognise whatsoever. It is an astonishing work of fiction, with a translation that is seamless. The only complaint is that there are numerous errors in the copy-editing, which as all readers know can jar and upset the suspension of disbelief necessary to remain fully immersed in the fiction reading process itself. Highly recommended; I've no doubt Kafka himself would have been envious of this wonderful more
by Rui Filipe Parreira