Sandor Marai Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Sandor Marai

Sandor Marai

An interview with Sandor Marai

Carol Brown Janeway, the English language translator of Embers, describes what it was like to first read Sándor Márai's lost classic.  The Communists banned his books and destroyed every copy they could find but thanks to the Italian publisher Roberto Calasso, his books have been resurrected.

Sometimes there is justice in the world. A couple of years ago, the great Italian publisher Roberto Calasso was on a trip to Paris when he noticed in a publisher's catalog the reissue of a list of neglected classics. Given his encyclopedic interest in Central European culture, he was curious to see the name of a Hungarian novelist, Sándor Márai, of whom he had never heard, and asked for material. Some French translations arrived, he started reading, and he realized that he was in the presence of that rarest of discoveries, a lost masterpiece. Calasso being Calasso, after a quick blizzard of phone calls, he was not only the owner of publishing rights to this book and two others, but was well on the way to unearthing an entire literary oeuvre.

Cut to the Frankfurt International Bookfair -- where publishers and agents from around the world meet to share their finds. I have hardly plopped down into my seat next to Calasso at a dinner when, with barely a nod to the usual convention of ten minutes of uproarious and unvarnished gossip about everybody and everything, he begins to talk about Márai. Nonsense forgotten, publishers from six countries around the table sit fixed on what he is saying. A few days later, back in New York, I get the package of the French translations and head home, almost dreading that they won't be, can't be, that good. I shouldn't ever have doubted. Hours later--it's 3 a.m.--I'm sitting with the last pages of Embers in my hands, and the world of twentieth-century literature has rearranged itself in my head.

The Communists banned Márai's books, destroyed every copy they could find, drove him into exile and oblivion. Fifty years later, Calasso has single-handedly set him back where he belongs, in the ranks of Musil, Joseph Roth, even (as some German critics are saying) Thomas Mann and Kafka. Embers has topped the best-seller lists in Italy and Germany already, and will be translated into twenty-three languages. The other books will follow. For any of us who work as editors, the discovery of a Márai would feel like the good fortune of a lifetime. I think and believe that when you read this book, you will feel that way too.

--Carol Brown Janeway, 2001.

Reproduced at BookBrowse with the permission of Random House.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Sandor Marai at BookBrowse
Portraits of a Marriage jacket Esther's Inheritance jacket Embers jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Sandor Marai but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Ha Jin

    Ha Jin

    Xuefei Jin, who writes under the pseudonym Ha Jin, was born in 1956 in Liaoning Province in northern China. His father was a military officer. In 1969, at only 14 years of age, Ha Jin joined the People's Liberation Army based... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Embers

    Try:
    Waiting
    by Ha Jin

  • Ismail Kadare

    Ismail Kadare

    Albanian writer Ismail Kadare was born in Gjirokaster, Albania in 1936; his father worked in the civil service.   He studied at the Faculty of History and Philology at the University of Tirana, graduating with a... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Embers

    Try:
    Agamemnon's Daughter
    by Ismail Kadare

We recommend 6 similar authors

View all 6 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    The War Librarian
    by Addison Armstrong
    Emmaline Balakin believes in the power of the written word — books have changed her life. When...
  • Book Jacket: The Book of Goose
    The Book of Goose
    by Yiyun Li
    Yiyun Li's The Book of Goose is a story of childhood friendship between narrator Agnès, a one-...
  • Book Jacket: Big Red
    Big Red
    by Jerome Charyn
    Jerome Charyn made his name as an author of detective novels, and over the years he has taken his ...
  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Bell in the Lake
by Lars Mytting
The engrossing epic novel - a #1 bestseller in Norway - of a young woman whose fate plays out against her village's mystical church bells.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Our Missing Hearts
    by Celeste Ng

    From the author of Little Fires Everywhere, the inspiring new novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

G R T Bad R

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.