Author(s): Gábor Zoltán Language: English Year of publication: 2023 Page Range: 410 ISBN: 978-3-949607-18-9 E-ISBN-13: 978-3-949607-19-6
Subject(s): Literary text
This novel is set in Budapest in the winter of 1944–45, and as such it is related to the history of Hungary, and of the Second World War. Extreme circumstances changed the behavior of many who lived through them, so that their actions were later described — or rather obscured — by terms such as “terrible,” “incomprehensible,” “inexplicable,” and other similarly strong adjectives.
The Arrow Cross seek out individuals not only of Jewish descent; anyone they view as liberals, “English sympathizers” or “humanists,” are considered enemies and therefore prey. One such man is the novel’s main character, the thirty-year-old factory owner, Renner. In addition to employing and concealing many Jews in his factory, both his wife and lover are of Jewish descent. He is a successful, fearless man: the Arrow Cross have plenty of reasons to kill him. But instead of a swift execution, they torture and humiliate him even longer than usual, subsequently forcing him to assist them. The novel focuses on Renner, station to station. Readers follow events through his progressively hazier point-of-view; in addition, the combined voice of the Arrow Cross also speaks by way of the barbarian horde reincarnated in the modern big city.