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"We are in the realm of the antiutopia, a cursed, amoral totalitarian existence poignantly familiar. The ambiguous setting, a metaphorical province that plays a predominant role, is somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, near the Ukrainian border. It is a dark, destructive, devastating region, a 'freezing hell' whose inhabitants live in captivity, some in enforced bondage, some in self-imposed exile. This baleful, restricted territory, controlled by an impersonal, sadistic secret police and/or military force, is not merely a fictional communist camp or penal colony, but, as the title suggests, an absurd, 'postmodern' gulag, an irrational survival zone of demonic proportions. The time is either the recent past or the near future - possibly a period following a nuclear holocaust."
(Clara Györgyei, World Literature Today, vol. 68)

"For weeks, months, maybe years I'd been living in the Sinistra district under the alias Andrei Bodor when a trackman's job opened up at the narrow-gauge forest railway. Tin-sheathed freight cars and scrapped trolleys were used on the railway to transport fruit, horse carcasses, and other feed to the bears on the nature reserve. There, behind the fencing of the reserve, far from the world, lived my adopted son, Béla Budasian, whose circumstances had let me to move to this mountainous region up north. So as soon as I heard that trackman Augustin Konnert had been found in several pieces one morning beside the tracks, I applied for his post at once.
Probably I wasn't the only one who'd applied, but in no time I was called in to the base for an interview. While waiting in the hallway I met up with the barber of Dobrin, who had just been expelled from the district. That day marked the beginning of my lifelong friendship with Aranka Westin."
(from: Sinistra Distric tr. by Paul Olchvary, The Hungarian Quarterly, No. 149)

"During the night, the train stops at a junction. Soldiers stand in the steam shooting out from under the train, other soldiers check the wheels.
"Are you sleeping, Comrade Weisz?" asks the man in the hat.
"No," answers Gizella Weisz, wide awake.
"I've been watching you" continues the man in the hat, "sitting there, as if you were sleeping. And I'm a little envious."
Gizella Weisz opens her eyes and looks under the brim of the man's hat, but can't see his face. The pale light of the compartment falls only on the tip of his gray nose.
"Of me? What on earth for?"
The man in the hat coughs.
"You studied at the Lomonosov in Moscow. And in no time, got everything you wanted."
"Yes," nods Gizella Weisz. "That's true. They spent a lot of money on me."
The man in the hat nods. "And you're full of ideas. The boss likes you."
Gizella Weisz stands up and digs into her bag. "Yes," she says. "I like my work. How about an apple?"
The man in the hat shakes his head. "No. No, thanks. Sets my teeth on edge."
"I like them even frostbitten," says Gizella Weisz and bites into her apple, "core and all. But not the seeds."
"Must come from a good family," says the man in the hat.
Gizella Weisz chews the apple until only the core is left in her hand. She flicks the seeds into the litter box.
"Well," she says, "actually, I never knew my parents.""
(from: The Outpost, trans. by Judith Sollosy)

"In our cynical age, when one is inundated by an onslaught of gulag and Holocaust memoirs and endless horrors projected by the media, Sinsitra district still makes the reader shudder and fear perpetually. Ádám Bodor achieves this effect with supreme artistry and authenticity: after all, he comes from a sinister district." (Clara Györgyey, World Literature Today, vol. 68)



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