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The Book of Fathers    by Miklós Vámos order for
Book of Fathers
by Miklós Vámos
Order:  USA  Can
Other Press, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Anyone with an interest in Hungary and Hungarian literature should read this entertaining novel (translated by Peter Sherwood). Miklós Vámos has portrayed twelve generations of fathers, and their stories reflect the changing times in Hungary. There is much hardship and poverty, but real people step out of these pages.

Certain members of the Csillag family have the ability to see back in history as well as to have some kind of understanding of their own fate. This magical talent keeps us in focus as we traverse through history. We see the family struggling against the economic turmoil and political intrigue of the time. Their endurance and resilience makes their history ever so worthwhile to read, and their ambition to live better leads to some very surprising endings in some of the chapters.

Most interesting is the Author's Note at the end of the book. (It might even help to read it first.) It speaks of his interest in his own family history and what prompted him to write the novel as well as providing some paragraphs on Hungarian history. Regarding the language of the book, Vámos explains that he has tried to mirror the growth of Hungarian from ancient to modern. This does not come across in the English translation, but nevertheless the translator must have accurately captured the author's meaning because the language feels exactly right.

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