Under Budapest

Under Budapest➯ [Read] ➫ Under Budapest By Ailsa Kay ➻ – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk Ailsa Kay lays out the literary euivalent of a jigsaw puzzle in Under Budapest bringing into stark relief the triumphs calamities and desperation of two North American Hungarian families and those who Ailsa Kay lays out the literary euivalent of a jigsaw puzzle in Under Budapest bringing into stark relief the triumphs calamities and desperation of two North American Hungarian families and those whose lives they’ve touched There’s Agnes and Tibor mother and son travelling to Hungary for reasons they keep to themselves he to recover from a disastrous love affair she to search for a sister gone missing during the Hungarian Revolution There’s Janos a self styled player and petty thug who schemes to make it rich in post communist Hungary And there’s Gyula and Zsofi caught up in a revolution that will change the face of Hungary forever Their lives are all connected by a conflagration of events the legacy of wartime violence past allegiances long buried rivalries and secrets from the pastThrough riveting narratives that spring back and forth through time Under Budapest captures the drama and ravages of the Hungarian Revolution and the eras that followed A dark ode to memory Kay’s intimate spectacle demonstrates that actions have conseuences that the past cannot be shaken that all events can carry the possibility of repercussion. For decades Hungary endured Soviet imposed communism and the internment or executions of political activists and anyone else who dared to speak up Rumour created an extensive underground tunnel and prison system beneath Budapest and even though proof of its existence has never been found the legend lives on It is these tunnels that link the dual narratives in Under Budapest connecting the stories of Tibor an academic who specialises in Hungarian history and his mother Agnes a Hungarian who fled the revolution of 1956 for the safety of Canada with the mysterious disappearance of Agnes' teenaged sister Zsofi during the Soviet retaliation all those years agoIn 2010 a young Canadian Hungarian man Janos Hagy navigates Budapest's streets with his less intelligent friend Csaba preying on begging gypsies scoring dope and looking for a party What Janos finds instead is nothing short of an end to all his scheming dreamsIn Toronto Tibor tries to shake himself out of the funk he found himself in after the break up of his affair with a married woman Rafaela by accepting a place as speaker at a conference in Budapest When his mother Agnes hears of his new travel plans she decides to go too In her old age this could be the last chance she has of finding out what happened to her sister Zsofi in 1956 after the last time she saw ever saw her Having just met another Hungarian immigrant who claims she escaped the underground prison tunnels with Tsofia and another woman with the help of a guard Agnes now has reason to hope that her sister survived the revolutionInstead of finding distraction from his relationship blues Tibor finds a decapitated head on Gellert Hill and having overheard the voices of the murderers finds himself becoming implicated in the crime And instead of finding her sister Agnes finds a way to put the demons of the past to rest including her own guilt over leaving her sister with Agnes' lover and fiancé Gyula a student leader in the revolution who excels at the art of lyingTheir stories weave together and culminate in the mythologised underground tunnels for beneath Budapest lies all Hungary's secrets it seems all the things and people that it wants to keep hidden away buried beneath layers of forgotten historyLong before the revolution of October 1956 the rumours were that the Soviets were tunnelling Their tunnels spread with the speed of rhizomes under the surface of Budapest The rumours spread the same way sprouting and multiplying their source untraceableWhen the revolutionaries stormed the Communist Party Headuarters in Koztarsasag Ter on October 30 they found half cooked palascinta far than would be reuired to feed the number of prisoners found in the building's cellar prisons Frantic searchers fanned out into every dank hallway looking for secret doors knocking index knuckles on walls that looked solid testing for hollow There were so few prisoners in the building Where were the hundreds who'd vanished? Someone had heard shouting from below Someone else had heard a number one hundred and forty prisoners Where were they? They had no food no water Time was running out p55It was interesting and I think reassuring to read that Ailsa Kay a Canadian fell in love with Budapest when she lived there several years ago because reading this book gives me little urge to visit the country Kay's Budapest is a bleak grotty place free of its Soviet reins but still in survival mode a place of corrupt police and suspicion of wild parties late at night in abandoned apartment buildings where the wealthy once lived but are which now ready to be torn down if only the government had the money to tear them down From the opening chapter in which Janos and Csaba encounter a frail gypsy man and a young gypsy boy in a cold and wet underpass and Csaba proceeds to kick and punch the man to death we get a vivid and heart breaking look into the underbelly of this city It is a scene that sets the tone and atmosphere for the entire novel making the murder Tibor witnesses almost ordinary in this contextAnd it does all tie together In this city with its powerful criminal underworld and its derelict abandoned neighbourhoods the sense of threat and danger lurks around every corner When Agnes goes out on her own to try and find the tunnel exits she learned about from the woman who said she escaped with Agnes's sister she gets caught up in a march a large group of black clad fascists people who consider themselves to be true Magyars or ethnic Hungarians calling for Hungary for Hungarians 2010 was the year of the election that saw Jobbik gain a surprising footing in parliament Their name means very right and the best and their campaign carried explicit anti Roma gypsy and anti Semitic sentiments; they are closely linked to the Magyar Garda the group of marchers Agnes runs into in the novel who are uasi military Csaba the violent youth who kills a homeless Roma likes to think he is one of them Hungary is fast becoming openly racist and anti Semitic which creates an atmosphere that puts Agnes in mind of WWII she calls the marchers the Arrow Cross which was a Nazi group set up by the German Nazis in the 40s With such open hostility towards Others it is no wonder that the Budapest of Kay's novel is brimming with tension suspicion fear mistrust and outright danger It is also winter and far from the days of sunshine and warmthFor a relatively short novel Kay manages to achieve a great deal Her characters have uniue and distinctive voices each transporting you to a different mindset as much as a different place in the story Janos staying with his grandmother on this trip to Budapest is a self styled schemer and fancies himself something of an entrepreneur in the making an ideas man He's bright enough to have ideas and to see a bit farther than his scary friend Csaba but not so bright that he can't see when he's being played Tibor is a subtle character a man whose always cast himself in his friend Daniel's larger shadow perhaps this is what prompted him to pursue an affair with Daniel's wife He's an ordinary man a man you would call good and yet when he finds himself the sole witness to a crime he is reluctant to go to the police or give peace of mind to the victim's family He is impatient and embarrassed by his mother but he is loving and loyal Yes an ordinary man someone easy to relate to precisely because he has such everyday flawsAgnes is a woman who has refused to share her own knowledge experience and insights of Hungary with her son which he thinks is maybe what led him to specialise in Hungarian history But her silence carries the weight of guilt and self recrimination; her memories are painful ones She's a level headed woman brave enough to flee Hungary while her sister and fiancé were brave enough to stay and fight for their country two different kinds of bravery that weren't compatible with each other When we go back in time to those heady days of revolution in 1956 and watch it play out the Budapest of the past isn't all that different from the one we get to know in 2010 the time in between seems to vanish They are markedly different and the nostalgia permeates Agnes's scenes in the present but perhaps because these European countries ruled by the Soviets were in effect stuck in a time warp with minimal progress the intervening years have no presenceGet my suitcase You cannot go to the National Police Why should you? Did you ask to be a witness?Mom stopDid you know this boy? He's probably a drug dealer An addict A waste And now he's dead okay? Why do you have to risk your life? No Tibor It's time to go And don't talk to anyone Don't speak to anyoneMom It's not 1956Yes it is She turns on him It is It is always 1956 People do terrible things You think they won't but they do They spy and they lie and they will tie a man by his ankles and they will light him on fire and they will watch as he burns They will watch Why don't you listen to me Tibor? You never listen to me pp132 3While Under Budapest may seem like a criminal thriller of a novel it has no tidy ending no tying up of loose ends or an arrested mob boss at the end It isn't a story about crime so much as a story about people humans caught in the trap of their memories in their own madness in their own lies and guilt and pain It is a story of human flaws as much as it is a story of moving beyond them to do an act of good It is a story about the past and how it has a tight hold on Hungary's present no matter how far away the people emigrate It is a story of the mysteries beneath Budapest secrets that the people hold onto out of hope as much as fear because when your loved one goes missing is arrested and vanishes it's better to believe they are locked up under Budapest than dead and discardedMy thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book It is such a pleasure to write this post My former McMaster colleague I suppose we’re still colleagues? alumni colleagues? and occasional writers group members Ailsa Kay has published a breathtaking novel that I just loved It’s something of an odd relief to love it there’s a bit of nervousness in reading a novel written by someone you know what if I don’t like it? with the only risk now that I won’t do anything close to justice to how great of a read it is and note that I’m not often one for reviews filled with effusive praiseThe plot is described on the back of the novel as a “jigsaw puzzle” and I suppose that’s an apt comparison with a caveat the early chapters offer apparently discrete plot pieces with separate settings and characters As each subseuent chapter unfolds however the reader finds edges to the pieces that echo earlier chapters in a way that confirms the pieces do in fact fit together For instance I was amazed how the repetition of a single word “veritable” proved enough of a narrative cue to pull this reader back to the earlier narrator and connect the two pieces The caveat is that I think the puzzle comparison makes too much of discrete parts The only real gap is from the first chapter to the second and from there on this reader felt uite sure that the unfolding plot was crafted in such a way that the pieces were not “scattered” so much as deliberately and thoughtfully placed one following the other I suppose though there is some of the triumph that comes from assembling a puzzle in watching as the whole picture takes shape and in seeing the connections What is most remarkable is the way Kay achieves this pulling together The seamless and truly remarkable ease in which the third person limited narration moves allows the reader to know than any one character and so to see the whole in a way the characters themselves cannot For this reader I felt an agonizing frustration as I wanted to share to yell at the characters what I knew so that they might avoid making mistakes and poor choicesThis care I felt for the characters is somewhat surprising given that they are for the most part not overly sympathetic Tibor in particular is just so sad His anxiety combined with his fumbling attempts at coming across as self assured are cringe worthy His mother name escapes me at the moment oh wait AgiAgnes is superbly drawn with her different modes of being in TorontoBudapest as clearly marked as the change in her name Oh Speaking of TorontoBudapest what a novel for setting Think back to The Night Circus and the brilliance of setting there this book sees setting as the title suggests as integral to the plot and characters and is a character in and of itself Budapest has a personality just as much as Tibor or Agi and to a lesser extent Toronto that makes the unfolding historymystery all the compelling as it reads like a biography rather than simple description Some spoilersWhile I could gush all day I ought to register my few complaints I was not totally sold on the betrayal of Agi by Gusomethingsomething for Zsofia Gu’s explanation of his sudden devotion reads a bit thin and I might have rather the affair been an ongoing thing rather than something that emerged in the moment of the revolution Though as I write this I see some symbolic merit to this origin point I still feel the treachery to be too sudden to effect the kind of torment Gu goes on to feelspoilers doneThat said I cannot I can’t recommend this book with any urgency or conviction Go read it The combination of genius plotting masterful character development and an utterly rich setting makes it impossible to put down and a true delight to read note I’m predicting a bestseller so read it now while it’s still hip to be in the know about the hottest new read I was very happy to win this book from Goodreads I just finished reading Under Budapest last night I really enjoyed it It was very well written I have read a few books set in Hungary during WWII but none set there after I loved the parallel interconnected stories set in 1956 and 2010 and the connection to Toronto The best part for me was the relationship between Tibor and his mother and their inner dialogues that showed how disconnected and connected they were all at once Although I appreciate that it was necessary to the story my only criticism is that at times the coincidences were a bit over the top and distracting Otherwise this was a great read and I highly recommend it especially to those with a bent for books set in Eastern Europe I thought that the author was able to bring her characters to life through amazing dialogue The story included several strands that intertwined and folded around each other giving the reader a look at present day and revolution era Budapest and the effects of war imprisonment on familyI really liked the writing style and the way the story unfolded This is a book that I would highly recommend even if the author didn't live in our town I got a copy of this book through the GoodReads FirstReads GiveawayThis novel is a real gritty look at a side of Budapest that the normal tourist would not normally see And be prepared for the rough language The raw brutality is seen in the first chapter which instantly grabs the attention of the reader The authour does a masterful job of bringing the diverse stories together She makes great use of flashbacks to explain what is happneing This when the story stats to make sense I found the story to be very intense Despit this the story was not hard to read The jumping around at time did make think where we were in the storyThe title Under Budapest is a reference to the the tunnels that everyone there beleives exist There must be urban legends in almost every city in the world What is our fascination The tunnels are a focus for the characters in the book They will explains things hide things and bring releif The book really deals with the things that go on under our noses The murders that don't solved the crooked cops and the gangsI enjoyed the book I would recommend it Under Budapest by Ailsa Kay is an astonishing novel The story involves a series of characters Canadians and Hungarians set in Budapest Rarely have I seen such a complex array of unlikable but completely understandable and strangely moving characters or such a skillful weaving of lives and incidents into the slow unraveling of a fascinating mystery These characters are so real so flawed so full of weaknesses and unpalatable motives that made me suirm because I recognized them in myself And yet I was shocked by how much Kay made me care about them I was slowly but unavoidably gripped by their lives and troubles and they have stayed with me As for the plot Kay wove the various seemingly unrelated threads of her story together so subtly I was kept guessing downright mystified actually as to how she would resolve it and delighted when she did so splendidly Really I almost never say this but you HAVE to read this book This was a pretty great book It wasn't flawless some plot twists were fairly obvious but the characters in the story are SO great they're not spared for their flaws or given a pass for bad behaviour by their creator something I really admire The writing is exceptional I was able to completely turn off my editor brain and just enjoy the show Highly recommend though be warned it is a bit gritty I did not finish I gave up after five pages extensive language a beating and a graphic description of assaulting a woman I'm not a prude but I could tell this book was going nowhere I wanted to go This book kept me riveted probably because so much of the mentions in the book were already familiar to me from the stories that I was told by my parents that lived thru the revolution in Hungary My mom like Agi keeps many details close to her chest and doesn't like to talk too much about it So proud of my Hungarian heritage and my ties to that beautiful country I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel The opening chapter with brutal subject matter was hard to get into but after that I couldn't put the book down The lives of two sisters during the Hungarian Revolution are stunningly presented

Under Budapest Epub ¿ Paperback
  • Paperback
  • 260 pages
  • Under Budapest
  • Ailsa Kay
  • English
  • 07 March 2014
  • 9780864926814