Tranquility by Attila BartisTranquility by Attila Bartis


byAttila BartisTranslated byImre Goldstein

Paperback | October 24, 2008

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Tranquility is a living seismograph of the internal quakes and ruptures of a mother and son trapped within an Oedipal nightmare amidst the suffocating totalitarian embrace of Communist Hungary. Andor Weér, a thirty-six-year-old writer, lives in a cramped apartment with his shut-in mother, Rebeka, who was once among the most celebrated stage actresses in Budapest. Unable to withstand her maniacal tyranny but afraid to leave her alone, their bitter interdependence spirals into a Sartrian hell of hatred, lies, and appeasement. Then Andor meets the beautiful and nurturing Eszter, a woman who seems to have no past, and they fall wildly in love at first sight. With a fulfilling life seemingly within reach for the first time, Andor decides that he is ready to bring Eszter home to meet Mother. Though Bartis’s characters are unrepentantly neurotic and dressed in the blackest humor, his empathy for them is profound. A political farce of the highest ironic order, concluding that "freedom is a condition unsuitable for humans," Tranquility is ultimately, at its splanchnic core, a complex psychodrama turned inside out, revealing with visceral splendor the grotesque notion that there’s nothing funnier than unhappiness.
Attila Bartis, born in Targu Mures (Marosvasarhely), Romania, has been hailed by readers across Europe as one of the most highly inventive Central European literary mavericks writing today. After completing his degree in photography, Bartis published his first novel A Séta in 1995 along with a collection of short stories. He has also b...
Title:TranquilityFormat:PaperbackDimensions:292 pages, 7.2 × 6.3 × 0.77 inPublished:October 24, 2008Publisher:Steerforth PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0980033004

ISBN - 13:9780980033007

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Read from the Book

The funeral was at eleven in the morning on Saturday, though I would have liked to have waited a few more days, in case Eszter showed up, but they wouldn’t continue with the refrigeration, not even for extra payment. The woman in the office quoted some new regulation and then asked why not cremate the body; it would be cheaper and much more practical since I could pick a time convenient for everybody in the family, to which I replied that I would not incinerate my mother, let the funeral be on Saturday, and I paid in advance for the three days of storage; she gave me a receipt, entered casket number 704-Saturday-Kerepesi-cemetery into the delivery log, and then put some papers before me, showing with a ballpoint pen where to sign.

Editorial Reviews

Winner of Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award 2009Reading like the bastard child of Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek, Tranquility is political and personal suffering distilled perfectly and transformed into dark, viscid beauty. It is among the most haunted, most honest, and most human novels I have ever read. —Brian Evenson A venerable—even Endgame-ish—addition to the literature of unhappy families. —Rivka Galchen With impressive force of language, Bartis succeeds in laying bare the ambivalences of his characters, their love-hate relationships and self destructive energies . . . The play that mother and son perform . . . is part Strindberg and part Chekhov, but mostly sheer Beckett or even pure theater of cruelty. —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Oddly beautiful and unsettling, the novel boldly illustrates the lengths people go to in securing their own private hells. —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)