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Tranquility [Deckle Edge] [Paperback]

Attila Bartis , Imre Goldstein

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Book Description

Oct. 24 2008

"Tranquility is a moving, emotionally complex, subtle, shocking novel …"—Los Angeles Times

Tranquility, the acclaimed third novel by Hungarian Attila Bartis, is simultaneously a private psychodrama and a portrait of the end of the Communist era. Reading it, “we arrive at ourselves, at our own obsessions, in our own silence,” writes Ilma Rakusa. A thirty-six-year-old writer struggles to escape his hellish, Oedipal inter dependency with his actress mother as Hungary’s Communist infrastructure collapses around him. One of the most psychologically dark and ironic novels to have emerged from contemporary Hungarian literature, it is also, as far as human psychology and political farce are concerned, one of the most illuminating.

Attila Bartis has been hailed by Hungarian readers as a maverick, unorthodox, and highly inventive postmodern writer. Tranquility is his first novel to appear in English.

Imre Goldstein has translated dozens of books and plays from the Hungarian. He is currently translating a three-volume novel by Péter Nádas.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago Books (Oct. 24 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980033004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980033007
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #674,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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 Mantecón, 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 Kämmerlings, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

About the Author

Bartis's first novel A seta (1991) won the Móricz Zsigmond Scholarship. His works include the short story collection A kékl_ pára (1995), the novel A nyugalom (2001), and a series of literary essays entitled Lazarus's Apocrypha (2001). Bartis has lived in Budapest since 1984. After the 1956 revolution in Hungary, Imre Goldstein escaped to the United States where he earned a Ph.D. in Theater. Since 1974, he has been living in Israel. He has translated dozens of books and plays from the Hungarian. Currently, he is translating a three-volume novel by Péter Nádas.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Upsetting Tranquility Feb. 20 2009
By buchwurm - Published on
In brief: a young man tries to cope with the love-hate relationship that binds him to his narcissistic and dominant mother and determines his entire life.

Highly recommended. I've read the Hungarian original and Goldstein's rendering won the Best Translated Book Award in 2008 so I hope that this masterpiece will be widely read by English speakers - it really deserves attention.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Beautifully written' May 22 2009
By Alison Daniel - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Perhaps like most people on this site, I read a lot. Often I'm left wondering why as so many books are disappointing. Fear not. Bartis' 'Tranquility' is engrossing, beautifully crafted and a delight to read.

His descriptions are sublime, unique and poetic.

The book itself is fine. From the size of it, the way the writing is spaced, the texture of the pages, it all presents a sensual delight for the fingers and eyes.

If you like books about and for the human condition, our awful rawness, our lies and deceptions, our truth and the way we love and hate, our society and climate, how it effects who we are, if you enjoy beautifully woven words and an intense comand of language, this is the book for you.

It is one of my all time favourites.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Untitled Review Feb. 15 2013
By Mirrani - Published on
Tranquility is anything but. This is an intense novel about a writer and his mixed up life. It gets racy, it gets emotionally violent, it has moments of pure insanity, but it is very, very good at all that it does. I was often finding myself drawn deeply into the emotion of the main character, the author who is dealing with his elderly, nutty actress-mother and his love life that has gone awry because of said mother and his living conditions with her. You don't have to have experienced what the narrator has experienced in order to become emotionally attached to what has happened to him because of the wonderful way this book is written.

The plot jumps around a lot and there were times when I felt somewhat lost as to where I had stopped reading. Several times I found myself wondering if my bookmark slipped and was put back in a different page than I remembered, either because the words I were reading felt like exact copies of what I had read before or because I felt so totally lost between what had happened and what was happening that I feared I'd skipped some pages. This writing style is part of the charm of the book, however and after a time you become used to it for the most part, though I wouldn't say it was my favorite aspect of the story.

People unwilling to read about intense sexual situations should probably avoid this book, as there are interactions with prostitutes, lovers and the narrator's mother that can become quite graphic at times. However, if that is your only reason to avoid reading, you might want to blush your way through the meat of the story because the emotional journey of the book combined with the quality of the writing shouldn't be missed.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Feb. 12 2010
By Judith C. Ryfinski - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My copy of this book was in great condition and was sent in a timely manner.

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