Mosaic pieces of a family novel

  Two girls are found dead in a village sometime in the 1960s. The third one is still alive when they find her, but by the time the doctor arrives, the wounded girl has already disappeared. Her boyfriend, a young policeman, stumbles across the truth decades later in Budapest after a strange meeting. From this enigmatic detective story the mosaic of a family novel unfolds. The characters in A Masked Ball set off from the same village, disperse, and meet at certain junctions. The stories are about encounters which reveal forgotten or repressed events, forcing people to take off the masks they have donned since their departure. A Masked Ball is a story that stretches to the current day, about people who live their lives, searching for each other, themselves, or their biological mother. Each chapter of Krisztián Grecsó’s new novel provides a snapshot, as if every story was the life of a different member of the family or a neighbour. Their paths crisscross until the dramatic whole takes shape.

Ordinary people – extraordinary secrets. A family novel where the reader plays detective.


ÁRPÁD KUN: Happy North

 The hero of this novel, Aimé Billion, is a real outsider who feels as a stranger not only in Africa or Europe, but even in his own body. Of Yoruba, Vietnamese and French descent, he is considered a white man by Africans, and an African by white people. Aimé spends the first thirty-eight years of his life in Benin, where he works as a nursing assistant. He then moves to Norway, a country where even neighbours are strangers to each other. Yet it is there that he finds happiness in an extraordinary love relationship. From traditional voodoo practices to the intricacies of life in the most affluent welfare society, Aimé charts everything with the same affability and curiosity. Happy North is a novel in which magic realism meets ‘plain’ realism to bring strange worlds to the reader and make them heart-achingly familiar.

A beautiful tale on being a stranger and finding a home.

Winner of the Aegon Award, for outstanding literary achievement

Rights sold

French, Galaade
Czech, Volvox Globátor
Turkish, Alakarga
Serbian, Dereta
Spanish, Tropo Editores

English, German and Norwegian excerpts available


EDINA SZVOREN: The Best Headsman in the Land
Short stories

 Is one supposed to be overjoyed if the best executioner in the country moves in next door? How does a mother feel if she is only allowed to meet her child for breastfeeding—a child who lives with the blind father? Is life with a tailor’s dummy preferable to life with fleshand-blood people? Reading Edina Szvoren’s latest stories about inadequate relationships, absurd secrets, unspeakable pain and intense longing, the reader is overcome simultaneously by dread, sympathy, and surprise. Hopelessly at odds with our parents and children, longing to be with, or away from, our partners, we still somehow manage to get on in the world. We are foreigners in our own stories, yet this is where we have to set up home. Will we ever get used to all this actually fitting together? Edina Szvoren’s stories show the claustrophobic familiarity of our relationships, with sparks of dark humour and hints of the absurd.

"These are human gestures; this is not hell.

European Union Prize for Literature 2015 for her second book of short stories


GYÖRGY SPIRÓ: Spring Collection

 Spring Collection by one of Hungary’s most renowned authors, György Spiró, is a Kafkaesque novel about an ordinary man in the Hungary of the 1950s, a ‘good communist’, an idealist who believes in the Party, suddenly finding himself the target of ridiculous accusations which nonetheless and gradually almost ruin his whole life in this era of dictatorship. Spiró’s genius consists in translating the essence of a dictatorial regime into a perfectly normal, everyday story. The reader, together with the Everyman protagonist of the novel, spirals helplessly deeper and deeper downwards, drawn in by the uncompassionate, relentless entity that is the dictatorial regime of the 1950s in Hungary. Together with the protagonist, we experience, even if we do not necessarily understand the absurd logic of, the mechanisms of absolute power. It is a frightening representation of how utterly incidental absolute power can be in crushing the individual, without even noticing it.

A Kafkaesque novel on absolute power and the individual.

ÁDÁM BODOR: The Birds of Verhovina

the_birds_of_verhovinaHome to nine hot springs, Verhovina used to be rich in natural beauty yet it has become a waste land, with only a few dozen inhabitants left. Trains to Verhovina are scarce; the timetable was cancelled. One day, even the birds disappeared from the region. The village has virtually lost contact with the outside world, though it seems to depend on some faceless, invisible power whose arrival always spells mysterious disappearance and violent death. The reader arrives in Ádám Bodor’s world, the periphery of civilization, at the break of dawn. Adam, the foster son of Brigadier Anatol Korkodus is waiting at the dilapidated station for a boy who is arriving from a reformatory school. Soon afterwards, Korkodus is arrested, for unfathomable reasons. As the subtitle says, these stories are ‘variations on the last days.’ Yet this decaying and sinister world, populated with people bearing fantastic names (Bodor’s trademark), is not devoid of a certain joie de vivre: people eat gourmet dishes, point out their interlocutor’s hidden motives with incredible acumen, and enjoy the stunning natural beauty. Ádám Bodor’s novel is the description of a totalitarian society in all its irrationality, absurdity and implacability—a description that alternately provokes laughter and shuddering in the reader. The Birds of Verhovina is oppressive and cruel without ever being gratuitously so; hilariously funny without being silly; magic and surreal without being gaudy or bombastic.

"The quality of Ádám Bodor’s humour is akin to the hardly perceptible smile of a Buddhist—as it appears on the smeary face of Eastern Europe. And it can turn into the grimace of horror in any given moment.” (Viktória Radics)



Six-time Publisher of the Year in Hungary, Magvető has become synonymous with the best Hungarian literature over the decades. We are proud to be the home of Imre Kertész, the only Hungarian laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature; László Krasznahorkai, the only Hungarian winner of the International Man Booker Prize; and Péter Esterházy, holder of countless international awards. Young writers taken on by Magvető have good reason to feel that they have joined the vanguard of contemporary Hungarian literature.

Imre Kertész’ novel Fatelessness has sold more copies than any other book in recent Hungarian history. The works of the most prestigious Magvető authors, including Géza Bereményi, Ádám Bodor, Péter Esterházy, László Garaczi, László Krasznahorkai, Ádám Nádasdy, Imre Oravecz, Lajos Parti Nagy, György Spiró, Zsuzsa Rakovszky and Pál Závada, as well as those of the best writers of the middle generation, Attila Bartis, Ildikó Boldizsár, György Dragomán, Krisztián Grecsó, Anna Szabó T., Edina Szvoren, László Szilasi or Krisztina Tóth, are regularly found on bestseller lists and critics’ lists, and sold in tens of thousands of copies.

Besides publishing established authors, it is Magvető’s mission to discover new talents, and publish their work. Our promising writers and poets include Tibor Babiczky, Péter Bognár, László Csabai, Zoltán Danyi, Ákos Győrffy, Lili Kemény, Noémi Kiss, Tibor Noé Kiss, László Potozky, Petra Szőcs, Tímea Turi and Benedek Totth.

We are very proud of our prestigious backlist which includes such classics as Géza Csáth, György Kardos G., Gyula Krúdy, Sándor Lénárd, Ottó Orbán, Géza Ottlik, György Petri, Szilárd Rubin, Miklós Szentkuthy, Antal Szerb and Sándor Tar. Since the 1960s, we have compiled and published annual anthologies of the best Hungarian poems and short stories of the preceding year, timed for the Festive Book Week that takes place in June each year. We also publish essay collections by scholars (e.g. Péter György, András Nagy, György Poszler); as well as a series of memoirs, interview collections and diaries, entitled ‘Facts and Witnesses’. A unique project in Hungarian publishing, our new poetry series launched in 2016 features Hungarian poets as well as translations of poetry. The first volumes include poetry by Zoltán Halasi, Tamás Jónás, Géza Röhrig, Zsuzsa Tamás, Ilma Rakusa and Balázs Szálinger, as well as those of Al Berto and W.G. Sebald.   

While our main profile is the publication of contemporary Hungarian poetry and prose, Magvető is the Hungarian home of such writers as César Aira, Anna Gavalda, Michel Houellebecq, Daniel Kehlmann, Colum McCann, Cormac McCarthy, Frank McCourt, Terézia Mora, Thomas Pynchon, Gabriel García Márquez and Lyudmila Ulitskaya.

Besides Imre Kertész’s Nobel Prize and László Krasznahorkai’s Man Booker Prize, our authors have been granted numerous prestigious awards. These include the annual Hungarian Literature Prize, awarded to Péter Esterházy (2000), Ádám Bodor and István Szilágyi (2001), Zsuzsa Rakovszky (2002) and Lajos Parti Nagy (2003); the Aegon Art Prize, an award that replaced the annual Hungarian Literature Prize, given to György Spiró (2006) – who also won the Artisjus Literary Grand Prize in 2012 – as well as to Zsuzsa Rakovszky (2007), Tamás Jónás (2009), Krisztián Grecsó (2012), Árpád Kun (2014) and Imre Oravecz (2016). Viktor Horváth and Edina Szvoren received the European Union Prize for Literature in 2012 and 2015, respectively; while Benedek Totth and Róbert Milbacher were awarded the Margó Prize for the best first book of fiction of the year (2015, 2016). László Darvasi’s book was Children’s Book of the Year in 2014. Imre Kertész received the Budapest Grand Prize in 1997, and several of our authors are laureates of the Kossuth Prize, the highest state prize in Hungary. Magvető was Publisher of the Year in 2003, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, and most recently in 2015.

Magvető Publishing is a member of the Líra Group, committed to the highest standards in book publishing and sales.

Catalogue, Spring 2017





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E-mail: orzoy.agnes@lira.hu

Tel.: (+36) 1 235 5030


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