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Tranquility is a living seismograph of the internal quakes and ruptures of a mother and son trapped within an Oedipal nightmare amidst the suffocating totalitarian embrace of Communist Hungary. Andor Weer, a thirty-six-year-old writer, lives in a cramped apartment with his shut-in mother, Rebeka, who was once among the most celebrated stage actresses in Budapest. Unable to withstand her maniacal tyranny but afraid to leave her alone, their bitter interdependence spirals into a Sartrian hell of hatred, lies, and appeasement. Then Andor meets the beautiful and nurturing Eszter, a woman who seems to have no past, and they fall wildly in love at first sight. With a fulfilling life seemingly within reach for the first time, Andor decides that he is ready to bring Eszter home to meet Mother. Though Bartis s characters are unrepentantly neurotic and dressed in the blackest humor, his empathy for them is profound. A political farce of the highest ironic order, concluding that "freedom is a condition unsuitable for humans," Tranquility is ultimately, at its splanchnic core, a complex psychodrama turned inside out, revealing with visceral splendor the grotesque notion that there s nothing funnier than unhappiness."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 292 pages
  • 157.48 x 182.88 x 22.86mm | 385.55g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0980033004
  • 9780980033007
  • 375,007

Review quote

"GREAT ANTICIPATION preceded the release of the maverick writer Attila Bartis's new novel, "A nyugalom" ("Tranquility"), after his previous book, "A keklo para" ("Bluish Mist"; see WLT 73:4, P. 784), had solidified his fame as an unorthodox, highly inventive postmodern writer. Its reception has been almost as ambiguous as its main character's psyche. Through anguished retrospection and daredevilish rumination, a baffling and mesmerizing tale unfolds in communist Hungary."--"WLT, Jan. 02""Bartis at times puts one in mind of Joyce, at others of Kafka, at others of Roth, yet ultimately eludes all comparison by the strength of his originality."--"Arturo Mantecon, ForeWord""Oddly beautiful and unsettling, the novel boldly illustrates the lengths people go to in securing their own private hells.""--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)""Reading like the bastard child of Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek, Tranquility is political and personal suffering distilled perfectly and transformed into dark, viscid beauty. It is among the most haunted, most honest, and most human novels I have ever read."--"Brian Evenson""With impressive force of language, Bartis succeeds in laying bare the ambivalences of his characters, their love-hate relationships and self-destructive energies ... The play that mother and son perform ... is part Strindberg and part Chekhov, but mostly sheer Beckett or even pure theater of cruelty.""--Richard Kammerlings, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung"show more

About Attila Bartis

Attila Bartis, born in Targu Mures (Marosvasarhely), Romania, has been hailed by readers across Europe as one of the most highly inventive Central European literary mavericks writing today. After completing his degree in photography, Bartis published his first novel A Seta in 1995 along with a collection of short stories. He has also been awarded the Tibor Dery Prize and the Sandor Marai Prize in 2001 for Tranquility (A nyugalom). He lives in Budapest. Tranquility is his first novel to appear in English. Imre Goldstein has translated from the Hungarian A Book of Memories, The End of a Family Novel, Love, Fire and Knowledge, and A Lovely Tale of Photography by Peter Nadas, A Feast in the Garden by Gyorgy Konrad, The House of Sorel by Pal Salamon, as well as many plays, stories, poems, and essays from both Hungarian and Hebrew. He received a PhD in drama from CUNY and has written and directed many plays. Goldstein has also published several collections of poetry and a novel, November Spring (Novemberi tavasz)."show more