Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas (Translated by Imre Goldstein) - review by George Gömöri

George Gömöri

Hungarian War & Peace?

Parallel Stories


(Jonathan Cape 1,133pp £35) order from our bookshop

With his previous novel, A Book of Memories (1986), Péter Nádas became one of the most talked about European authors on both sides of the Atlantic. The American critic Susan Sontag was among the book’s admirers, hailing it as ‘the greatest novel written in our time’. Though thoroughly modern in its execution, A Book of Memories still somehow fitted into the great tradition of the novel, continuing the line of such writers as Robert Musil and Thomas Mann. It was not only the author’s captivating style, with its long, beautifully wrought sentences, but also the deep insights into human emotions and male psychology that made that book truly memorable. His novel was followed by several collections of essays and short stories and raised expectation for the next. Hungarian readers had to wait until 2005 for Parallel Stories, published in Hungary as three separate volumes. English-speaking admirers of Nádas have waited until now for this translation, which combines the three volumes into one.

Parallel Stories is a monstrously long read of over 1,000 pages. As the title indicates, there are several plots, running side by side, sometimes converging, and at other times abruptly coming to an end. The three volumes – ‘The Mute Realm’, ‘In the Very Depth of the Night’ and ‘The

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