Summary and book reviews of Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy

Siege 13

Stories

by Tamas Dobozy

Siege 13
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Feb 2013, 300 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

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About this Book

Book Summary

From celebrated short-story writer Tamas Dobozy, Siege 13 is a powerful testament to war's ability to carefully and thoroughly decimate the human spirit.

Winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award

Built around the events of the Soviet Budapest Offensive at the end of World War II and its long shadow, the stories in Siege 13 are full of wit, irony, and dark humor. In a series of linked stories that alternate between the siege itself and a contemporary community of Hungarian émigrés who find refuge in the West, Dobozy utilizes a touch of deadpan humor and a deep sense of humanity to extoll the horrors and absurdity of ordinary people caught in the crosshairs of brutal conflict and its silent aftermath.

Observing the uses and mis-uses of history, and their effect on individuals and community, Dobozy examines the often blurry line between right and wrong, portraying a world in which one man's betrayal is another man's survival, and in which common citizens are caught between the pincers of aggressors, leading to actions at once deplorable, perplexing, and heroic. Dobozy's stories feature characters, "lost forever in the labyrinth built on the thin border between memories and reality, past and present, words and silence. Like Nabokov, Tamas Dobozy combines the best elements of European and American storytelling, creating a fictional world of his own." (David Albahari, author of Gotz and Meyer)

The Atlas of B. Görbe

He was the sort of man you've seen: big and fat in an overcoat beaded with rain, cigar poking from between his jowls, staring at some vision beyond the neon and noise and commuter frenzy of Times Square.

That's how Benedek Görbe looked the last time I saw him. This was May, 2007, shortly before I left Manhattan, where I'd been living with my family for six months on a Fulbright fellowship at NYU. Görbe was an ex-boyfriend of an aunt in Budapest, though he hadn't lived in or visited Hungary for over forty years. He wrote in Hungarian every day though, along with drawing illustrations, for a series of kids' books published under the name B. Görbe by a small but quality imprint out of Brooklyn who'd hired a translator and published them in enormous folio-sized hardcovers under the title The Atlas of Dreams. Benjamin and Henry, my two boys, loved the books, with their pictures reminiscent of fin de siècle ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Dobozy’s writing has a strong and classic feel to it, and it is apparent that he knows his craft. His stories walk the fine line between the everyday and the fantastical, and the curious actions of his characters echo a loneliness that is sometimes pitiable and other times cruel, but always interesting.   (Reviewed by Elena Spagnolie).

Full Review Members Only (697 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist

Though pedestrian prose occasionally softens the impact, these are stories worth telling, and Dobozy is a gifted storyteller in his elegant plotting and touches of surrealism.

Publishers Weekly

Colorful and rich in detail and full of life.

Mark Medley, National Post (Canada)

A superb collection of short stories that revisits two of the deadliest months in Hungarian history. The book tells the stories of those who hid, those who fought, those who betrayed, those who escaped and those who died, and how the effects of the siege still linger, three-quarters of a century later.... Siege 13 is one of the best books of the year.

Author Blurb Jury Citation, Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
From the dark cityscapes of besieged Hungary to the émigré cafés of contemporary North America, Siege 13 spans continents and decades, and in doing so illustrates once again that old maxim: the short story can be both as broad and as deep as a novel. At times gently humorous, at times quietly wise, Dobozy's thirteen stories dazzle with their psychological nuance and brilliant attention to detail. These stories are never less than breathtaking.

Author Blurb David Albahari, author of Gotz and Meyer
Siege 13, Tamas Dobozy's new collection of short stories, shows us once again that he is an excellent storyteller, one of the few who keep the art of writing good short fiction alive. His stories are usually about Hungarians living outside of Hungary, lost forever in the labyrinth built on the thin border between memories and reality, past and present, words and silence. Like Nabokov, Tamas Dobozy combines the best elements of European and American storytelling, creating a fictional world of his own.

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Beyond the Book

The Budapest Offensive

The stories in Tamas Dobozy's collection, Siege 13, look at some of the emotional and psychological consequences of the Budapest Offensive, one of the longest and deadliest military campaigns of World War II. Beginning in the autumn of 1944, the Budapest Offensive lasted though February 13, 1945. Budapest was officially surrounded on December 29, 1944, in what became known as the "Siege of Budapest". The whole campaign caused immeasurable destruction and hardship.

Soviet Army in BudapestAfter having taken control of Romania in August 1944, the Soviet Red Army (an Allied force) continued to push west, setting its sights on Hungary (see map). Hungary would provide a direct link to Austria and Czechoslovakia, which would give the Allies access to the south of ...

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