Ágnes Orzóy (editor-at-large, Hungary): Looking to the past: when Borbély’s voice was recorded for the July 2013 issue of Asymptote, we couldn’t know that the 50-year-old poet would be dead within a few months. Except that the demons of death had been hovering around him for a long time—as Gábor Schein put it so eloquently in his obituary on Asymptote blog. Readers may get a glimpse into the unique world of Borbély (whose oeuvre was just beginning to be appreciated outside Hungary when he committed suicide) from an interview in our forthcoming January issue. There are not many interviews in which the gory details of a brutal murder stand together with well-reasoned and sensitive ideas on evil and the human condition, as well as on how ancient literary traditions may become proper vehicles for the account of modern experience.
And looking forward: The Stuffed Barbarian by Gergely Péterfy was hailed by critics and readers alike as the best Hungarian novel of 2014. Told by the wife of Ferenc Kazinczy, the leading figure of the Hungarian-language reform of the 18th century, the novel is centered around the figure of Angelo Soliman, a black slave who rose to become a prominent member of Viennese society. An extremely erudite person and a high-ranking freemason, Soliman was skinned and stuffed after his death and exhibited in a museum. The motifs of Kazinczy’s own story are echoed in that of his friend Soliman: both strived to transcend their circumstances by adhering to high ideals, and both failed because, no matter what they achieved, they always remained strangers and outcasts. A fascinating and well-crafted story, Péterfy’s novel sheds a new light on some of the harrowing dilemmas and suppressed conflicts at the root of modern Western civilization.
So that we can continue beyond our January 2015 issue and introduce Gergely Péterfy and other Hungarian writers in our pages one day, please consider joining 230 donors in support of our Indiegogo campaign now! With 24 hours left to close the remaining gap of $3,000, the situation is urgent. Thank you so much!