Meet the writer: Benedek Totth

Date: 5 March
Time: 19:00
Venue:  Hungarian Cultural Institute
Treurenberg 10, 1000 Brussels

5 March 2020, 7PM - Balassi Institute

Benedek Totth (1977 - Kaposvár) is a translator, editor and writer. He has more than 50 novels to his name translated from the American and English literature such as The Road (Cormac Mccarthy), Shutter Island (Dennis Lehane) and Brave New World (Aldous Huxley). His first novel, Dead Heat has put him instantly in the spotlight. Published in 2014, the novel is a mix of young adult fiction and thriller and is based on his life and experience as a professional athlete. In 2015, he received the Margo Award for Best First Prose Volume.

His latest novel, The War After the Last War, is a post-apocalyptic adventure novel about a boy who sets out to find his brother in the middle of the war. His shorter stories have appeared in numerous magazines and volumes.

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The discussion will be in English, moderated by Levente Juhász.

Levente Juhász studied literature and cultural history at the University of Szeged. He is currently working as a translator at the Council of the European Union and continues to follow the Hungarian literary life with high interest.

Benedek Totth: Dead Heat (excerpt), Biblioasis, translated from Hungarian by Ildikó Noémi Nagy.

„We’re bolting down the new bypass when Ducky turns to ask where the fuck we are, but everyone’s laying low ‘cause they’re all clueless I guess, or they don’t wanna say something dumb that’ll just confuse him and get us lost even worse. It’s no place familiar to me, plus it’s not like you can actually see anything in this nasty weather, but I’d be real glad if we figured out where we are, ‘cause there’s no chance in hell we’re getting home any other way. “Isn’t that the slaughterhouse?” I say, pointing to a huge factory building that looks vaguely like a wild boar. Ducky’s like Dafuq you talkin’ ‘bout? and though he turns his head the right way he misses it ‘cause the view’s suddenly blocked by noise barriers on either side and everything’s all stretched out kinda like in Star Wars when they make the jump to light speed. There’s something Harrison Fordish about Ducky actually, especially if you look at him from back in the dim light. He’s always the one driving, though he’s got no license, he just borrowed Mishy’s. Mishy’s his cousin and they totally look alike on the ID pic. How the dude even landed this permit is beyond me, ‘cause he’ll only be sixteen next summer, but no one’s gotten busted yet. I seriously doubt Ducky’s ever gonna have his own license. He flunked on the road test three times, even though his old man greased the examiner. Even now we’re tearing up the road in one of his pop’s wheels. Of course the little shit’s frontin’ that Pop let him take it, but I know he didn’t. Ducky’s pop is a cool dude but there’s no way he’s just handing over a three-hundred horsepower sedan worth eighty-five grand to his son. Ducky’s gripping the wheel with one hand, his other hand fumbling around inside a McDonald’s bag, till he yanks out a Big Mac and stuffs it into his face whole. Wilted bits of lettuce drop into his lap. Zoli-boy leans forward, to ask something I guess, but as he tries to squeeze his head between the seats, he head-butts the back rest real severe. He’s always hyped as fuck no matter what he smokes or pops. I have no idea what booze does to him though, ‘cause he never drinks. I lean forward all casual, trying to peek over Ducky’s shoulder to read the speedometer, but then the jittery blue line of numbers detaches from the dash, floats off into space, and all I can piece together is that they start with a three or an eight. The passenger area’s swirling with dense, sticky smoke, like I was sitting inside a huge bag of cotton candy. Ducky glances down into his lap, trying to sweep the pieces of lettuce onto the floor, but he fumbles around until he manages to smear the sauce all over his pants.”