Noémi Szécsi (1976) Hungarian author. Born in Szentes, Hungary she studied Latin, Finnish and English at the Eötvös Lóránd University of Budapest (degree in Finnish language 2001, in English language: 2002). Between 1998 and 2000 she attended the University of Helsinki, Finland as a student of Finnish as a Foreign Language and gender studies.
She wrote her first novel, The Finno-Ugrian Vampire in 2000 while
studying cultural anthropology and gender studies at the Christina
Institute in Helsinki. A script based on the novel participated the Sundance Scriptwriters’ Workshop in Prague in November 2001.
The novel was first
printed in 2002 and reprinted in 2003. Eurofilm Studio acquired the film
rights in 2002. The first translation of the novel was published by
a Polish publisher, Czarne in 2005, to be followed by the English, American and Italian editions.
In 2001-2002 she graduated from journalism and started writing for various newspapers and
magazines. A book based on her first blog was published in 2003 and reprinted several times.
"I like being an outsider..." Interview with Noémi Szécsi on Hungarian Literature Online
Noémi Szécsi writing for New York Times: How Europe's Other Half Lives
2002 (reprinted in 2003 and 2011) FINNUGOR VÁMPÍR (Finno-Ugrian Vampire, novel)
2006 KOMMUNISTA MONTE CRISTO (Communist Monte Cristo, novel) winner of European Union Prize for Literature, 2009
2009 UTOLSÓ KENTAUR (Last Centaur, novel)
2011 NYUGHATATLANOK (The Restless, novel)
2012 MANDRAGÓRA UTCA 7. (7 Mandrake Street, children’s book)
2013 GONDOLATOLVASÓ (Mindreader, novel)
2003 A kismama naplója (Journal of the Mother to Be, blog book)
2004 A baba memoárja (Memoirs of the Baby, blog book)
2015 Hamisgulyás (Mock Goulash, non-fiction, with Béla Fehér)
2015 Tetűmese (A Lousy Tale, picture book, with István Szathmáry)
2015 A budapesti úrinő magánélete (The Private Life of the Lady of Budapest, 1860-1914, non-fiction, with Eleonóra Géra)
Merits and Honours
2000 CIMO Scholarship
2001 Sundance Scriptwriters’ Workshop in Prague, Czech Republic (with Finno-Ugrian Vampire)
2003 ’Europäisches Festival des Debütromans’, Kiel, Germany (with Finno-Ugrian Vampire)
2004 ELLE Prize for the ’Book of the Month’ (for Journal of the Mother to Be)
2005 Móricz Zsigmond State Grant (for Communist Monte Cristo)
2009 European Union Prize for Literature (for Communist Monte Cristo)
2010 Litera Prize of the XVIIth International Budapest Book Festival
2010 Writer-in-Residence in Brussels, Passa Porta/Het Beschrijf (for The Restless)
2011 State decoration ’József Attila-díj’
2011 Guest of European Parliament hosted by the Federation of European Publishers, Brussels
2011 Guest of „Reading Europe” hosted by the regional center for European Commission in Bonn
2012 European Literature Night, London – guest of British Council
2012 Guest of Göteborg Book Fair
2012 Guest of Manchester Literature Festival
2012 Giving opening speech in the Belgrade Festival of Books
2013 Guest of PEN Festival, New York
2014 Guest of Incroci di Civilta, Venice
2014 Nominated for the Book Prize of Salerno (for Finno-Ugrian Vampire)
FINNO-UGRIAN VAMPIRE (Finnugor vámpír, 2002, JAK-Kijárat)
Her Granddaughter, Jerne has just returned to Budapest after a posh education at an English college, Winterwood. Reincarnations of the Bronte sisters taught her to write fairy tales. Jerne writes children’s books, but they are considered too bloody to be published. Her Grandmother is adamant: Jerne will have to give up her literary ambitions and become a vampire. In the meanwhile, she takes an undemanding job as an editor. But the married couple who run the publishing house behave more and more suspiciously.
This is a story of death and the afterlife told by a witty and irresistible narrator. The first Budapest vampire story from the home country of Béla Lugosi.
"...younger generation, writers such as Noémi Szécsi, are reacquainting themselves with the principle of entertaining the reader.” Tibor Fischer in the Guardian
“...a linguistic tour-de-force and play on myths.” - Rosie Goldsmith, BBC journalist and presenter of Crossing Continents
“Noémi Szécsi is at the heart of the new generation of Hungarian authors.” - Goodreads.com
A review in the Guardian by Tibor Fischer: Hungary for blood.
A review by M. A. Orthofer: "Appealing Hungarian tale from literary-vampiric angle".
Richard W. Jackson's review on bookgeeks.co.uk: "...the novel takes no prisoners..."
Michael A. Morrison, World Literature Today: "...belongs at the top of your 'must-read' list"
Zsuzsanna Varga in Times Literary Supplement: "...authors feed on each other just as voraciously as do bloodsuckers on the living"
Sanyi, a handsome vegetarian butcher and assistant labourer of the Communist Party has nothing left but his syphilis after the fall of the 1919 proletarian revolution. Gingerly manouvering in politics he still survives somehow the bloody decades of Hungarian history up until 1956. The novel – ironically speaking the language of contemporary journalism and demagoguism – turns upside down the elements of the original Monte Cristo-story, for it is not about revenge but the stupidity of all-time politics.
It is being translated into several languages, but it has already been published in Serbian (Komunista Monte Cristo, 2011, Zavet) and Macedonian (Комунистот Монте Кристо, 2011, ILI-ILI ).
LAST CENTAUR (Utolsó kentaur, 2009, Ulpius)
Four young students – messengers by day, anarchists by night – rebel without a cause, without a real result.
’Snapshots of Budapest’s permanent hangover after the change of regime’ (Exit)
THE RESTLESS (Nyughatatlanok, 2011, Európa)
As for the others, due to a pact between Vienna and the Ottoman Empire thousands of Hungarian, Polish and Italian refugees were given political asylum in Turkey, but after revolutionary leader Lajos Kossuth and his retinue had left for the United Sates in September 1851, the others were also free to leave. The majority did leave, mostly for the USA, London, Paris. Some of them entered into Ottoman service, mostly during the Crimean War of 1854-55. A significant share of the forty-eighters became professional freedom fighters, fighting for the unity of Italy by Garibaldi’s side, or in the Civil War of the US.
The craze for levitation and spiritism spread like wildfire among the fanatics, the obsessive and those who had lost heart – a symptom of the psychological crisis of emigré society which often took refuge in the irrational. In 1853 the American fad of table-moving swept Hungary especially vehemently because the people desperately wanted to know the whereabouts of their family members in exile. They called the ghosts of dead martyrs of the reprisal and asked them what destiny awaited for Hungary.
The Crimean War raises hope within the exile community. For different reasons refugees and their persecutors share a common expectation of a new revolutionary outbreak. The emigrants live in artificial and psychologically stressful circumstances, so they – the ones who have second sight – start to see ghosts everywhere.
The main locations are Paris and Brussels, other episodes taking place in Transylvania, Biarritz, Marseilles and Ostende the story is complete with a portrait gallery of 19th century emigration: besides a resigned Hungarian nobleman and his ‘I-have-seen-better-days’ wife, some Polish and Hungarian freedom fighters, English ladies, French prostitutes and – Austrian spies.
On the surface the novel treats the topic of the deaf in the 19th century. Although the oralist episode is regarded as setback in deaf education, in the 1860s lipreading and speech education was dominant, overshadowing sign language. While the signer is a fluent communicator in his own community, the lip-reader is an outcast both among the hearing and the deaf experiencing what a deaf poet calls ’silent exile on this earth’.
The son of the Hungarian émigré family, Philip was born deaf. Among others his character is inspired by Kolya Herzen from the drama trilogy of Tom Stoppard, Coast of Utopia. His disability makes him special for Philip perfects his skills in the insight into character. But on the other hand he is forced to live the life of her older sister, an actress struggling for success. A gripping monologue of a fascinating narrator lingering on the borderline of the hearing and deaf community, trying to find his identity and the possibilities of independence.