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The Dispossessed: A Novel Audiobook, by Szilárd Borbély Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Szilárd Borbély Narrator: James Langton Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2016 ISBN: 9780062645623
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A literary sensation on its original publication in Hungary, this hypnotic, hauntingly beautiful first novel from the acclaimed, award-winning poet and author Szilárd Borbély depicts the poverty and cruelty experienced by a partly-Jewish family in a rural village in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“No one has ever written so beautifully and at the same time so without pity about the suffering in the isolated provincial villages of Hungary…His sentences have a surgical precision, and their sustained rhythm only reinforces the power of what they evoke.”—Nicole Henneberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In a tiny village in northeast Hungary, close to the Romanian border, a young, unnamed boy warily observes day-to-day life and chronicles his family’s struggles to survive. Like most of the villagers, his family is desperately poor, but their situation is worse than most—they are ostracized because of his father’s Jewish heritage and his mother’s connections to the Kulaks, who once owned land and supported the fascist Horthy regime before it was toppled by Communists.

With unflinching candor, the little boy’s observations are related through a variety of narrative voices—crude diatribes from his alcoholic father, evocative and lyrical tales of the past from his grandparents, and his own simple yet potent prose. Together, these accounts reveal not only the history of his family but that of Hungary itself, through the physical and psychic traumas of two World Wars to the country’s treatment of Jews, both past and present.

Drawing heavily on Borbély’s memories of his own childhood, The Dispossessed is an extraordinarily realistic novel. Raw and often brutal, yet glimmering with hope, it is the crowning achievement of an uncompromising talent.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “No one has ever written so beautifully and at the same time so without pity about the suffering in the isolated provincial villages of Hungary…His sentences have a surgical precision, and their sustained rhythm only reinforces the power of what they evoke.”

    Nicole Henneberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • The Dispossessed reveals the destructive power of linguistic powerlessness, of keeping silent at all costs.”

    Die Welt

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About the Author

Szilárd József Borbély (1963–2014) was a Hungarian academic, writer and poet. The Poetry Foundation identifies him as “one of the most important poets to emerge in post-1989 Hungary.” Borbély utilised several writing genres and predominantly dealt with subjects like grief, memory and trauma.

About the Narrator

James Langton, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and later as a musician at the Guildhall School in London. He has worked in radio, film, and television, also appearing in theater in England and on Broadway. He is also a professional musician who led the internationally renowned Pasadena Roof Orchestra from 1996 to 2002.