April 24, 2010

Take Me Away Saturday is Back with a Trip to Hungary!

Take Me Away Saturday

I had some Take Me Away post overload and had to put this feature on hiatus. But I am bringing it back and thought Cultural Diversity Month was an excellent time to do so. Only this time it will be a monthly feature as oppose to a weekly feature. It is a time-consuming post to put together. Thanks for understanding and I hope that you enjoy today's post!

For those of you unfamiliar with Take Me Away Saturday, I started it because I love books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures. Take Me Away is a way to share with other readers books that can transport them into another culture. Each week I feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there. (Note: ex. not necessarily books by a German or an Australian, but books set in Germany or Australia.) I try to provide a variety of fiction genres as well as nonfiction selections.
I am keeping a map of the countries we visit, which you can see at the bottom of this post. There is also a list of both countries and cultures visited in past Take Me Away posts. Check them out and discover some good books to read.

This week we are visiting the country of Hungary, which was the country/culture scheduled next when the feature went on hiatus in December.

Here is an easy to see map of Hungary:
For more information on this country, click here.

Click on the titles of the books below to read reviews and/or purchase the book. Note: I do not receive commissions if you purchase a book through the link I provide, whether from Amazon, Indiebound, or otherwise.

Embers by Sandor Marai
Two very old men Konrad and Henrik, "the General" once the closest of friends, meet in 1940 in the fading splendor of the General's Hungarian castle, after being separated for 41 years, to ponder the events that divided them. This 1942 novel by a forgotten Hungarian novelist, rediscovered and lucidly and beautifully translated, is a brilliant and engrossing tapestry of friendship and betrayal, set against a backdrop of prewar splendor. Publisher: Vintage Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
When a motherless American girl living in Europe finds a medieval book and a package of letters, all addressed ominously to "My dear and unfortunate successor..." she begins to unravel a thread that leads back to her father's past, his mentor's career, and an evil hidden in the depths of history. In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright: a hunt that nearly brought her father to ruin and may have claimed the life of his adviser and dear friend, history professor Bartholomew Rossi. What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula, have to do with the 20th century? Is it possible that Dracula has lived on in the modern world? And why have a select few historians risked reputation, sanity, and even their lives to learn the answer? So begins an epic journey to unlock the secrets of the strange medieval book, an adventure that will carry our heroine across Europe and into the past -- not only to the times of Vlad's heinous reign, but to the days when her mother was alive and her father was still a vibrant young scholar. In the end, she uncovers the startling fate of Rossi, and comes face to face with the definition of evil-- to find, ultimately, that good may not always triumph. Publisher: Little, Brown and Co. Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure

We Are On Our Own by Miriam Katin
This WWII memoir is the debut graphic novel from Katin, an animator for Disney and MTV. It tells the story of toddler Katin—here called Lisa—and her mother, Esther Levy, Hungarian Jews who must flee Nazi persecution. With her husband off fighting in the Hungarian army, Esther is forced to abandon all their belongings and take on the identity of a servant girl with a bastard child. She survives however she can—whether making alterations on the bloodstained uniforms of dead soldiers or surrendering her body to an adulterous German officer. Katin shows Esther's harrowing experiences with an objective eye, but her own experience of the time is the fragmented memory of a child; unable to understand the vast tragedy unfolding around her, she focuses on the loss of a pet dog. The story flashes forward to the '70s and even later to show the long-term effects on Katin and her family's faith. Katin's art is an impressionistic swirl; early scenes in sophisticated Budapest recall the elegance of Helen Hokinson, while the chaos of war is captured in dark, chaotic compositions reminiscent of Kathe Kollwitz. This book is a powerful reminder of the lingering price of survival. Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel

Revolution in Hungary: The 1956 Budapest Uprising by George Konrad and Erich Lessing
On October 23, 1956, what began as a mass rally in Budapest quickly evolved into the Hungarian Revolution. Within days, millions of Hungarians were supporting the revolt. It lasted until November 4th when it was crushed by Hungarian Security Police and Soviet tanks and artillery. Between 25,000 and 50,000 Hungarian rebels and 7,000 Soviets were killed, thousands were injured, and nearly a quarter of a million people left the country as refugees. Erich Lessing was the first photographer to arrive in Hungary, and he documented the short-lived uprising and its aftermath in a series of world-famous photographs, reproduced here in stunning duotone. They bring to life once more the hope and euphoria of the first days of the revolt, so soon to be followed by the pain and punishment of its brutal suppression. 230 duotone illustrations. Publisher: Thames & Hudson Genre: NF, Photography, History

The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld Series #1) by Gena Showalter
His powers--inhuman. His passion--beyond immortal. All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member--a man trapped in a hell of his own. Neither can resist the instant hunger that calms their torments...and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction--and a soul-shattering test of love.... Publisher: Harlequin Genre: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy

The Hungarian Cookbook by Susan Derecksey
Susan Derecskey worked in publishing and journalism until she met a transplanted European journalist named Charles Derecskey, by origin a Hungarian from Transylvania, and embarked on the globe-trotting uncertainties of life with a foreign correspondent. Already an accomplished cook in the French mode, she began to cook Hungarian, first as a treat for her husband, then as a parlor trick, finally as an obsession.

When the Derecskeys returned to the United States, Susan already had an extensive collection of notes and recipes she had accumulated and tested wherever they were: the Congo, Paris, Germany andas culmination -- Hungary. Here, in the fine restaurants of Budapest and the more modest establishments and homes of Transylvania, she learned how the classic dishes should be made and developed that instinct for the cuisine that separates the gifted cook from the merely skillful one.

Her husband and two young sons cheered her on through the writing of The Hungarian Cookbook. They still gather every summer in the big kitchen at Ledgewood in the Adirondack Mountains, where many of the recipes in the book were put to the test. This annual ceremony of renewal is bound to feature such enshrined favorites as kohlrabi soup and chicken paprikash and one or more of those fabulous Hungarian desserts. Publisher: William Morrow Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbooks/Cooking, Culinary Culture

Kingdom of Shadows by Alan Furst
In spymaster Alan Furst's most electrifying thriller to date, Hungarian aristocrat Nicholas Morath—a hugely charismatic hero—becomes embroiled in a daring and perilous effort to halt the Nazi war machine in eastern Europe. Publisher: Random House Genre: Fiction, Thriller

Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten
The Hungarian village of Zivatar may be isolated, but it is not completely immune to the changes sweeping the country. The Soviets have left, and the villagers are warming to the blessings of capitalism—expensive cars, cheap women, and California fruit. It’s all too much for Valeria, the village grouch. And yet, Valeria is not immune to change, either. A routine trip to the market leads to unexpected love, and sets off a chain reaction through the entire village. A remarkably accomplished debut novel, Valeria’s Last Stand contemplates love, lust, tradition, and transition with wisdom and warmth. Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance/Relationships

Living in Hungary by Alain Fleisher
Since the fall of communism, former Eastern Bloc countries are becoming increasingly accessible to visitors from around the world. Part of Flammarion's "Living in" series, this beautiful book will certainly encourage travelers to explore Hungary, a country steeped in culture and history. Luckily for the contemporary tourist, buildings from ancient times through the 20th century have been preserved or restored, so that a great variety and depth of tourist attractions are to be seen in every part of Hungary. Publisher: Rizzoli Genre: NF, Photography, Arts/Architecture, History

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. There are many more books out there. Do you want to share book recommendations that feature Hungary? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments! I love the feedback!

Be sure to check back for another trip in books! Here is what is coming up next:

May: The South Pacific island nation of Fiji
June: The Central American country of Honduras

The Take Me Away Map of Countries Visited:

Where we've been and the books that take us there:
The Americas and the Caribbean
Triple Threat-Baltic States
Middle East
Sierra Leone
Australia, Pacific Islands
New Zealand
Cultures Across the World
Australian Aborigines
Sioux Nation
Inuit Culture


  1. Great post! The only book I've read on the list is We Are On Our Own. It's a memorable book.

  2. I am 1/4 Hungarian and saw some books on your list I didn't know - thank you. I would add one favorite - Newbery Award winning The Good Master by Kate Seredy, a wonderful children's book about cousins growing up in the Hungarian countryside prior to WWI.


  3. I've read The Lords of the Underworld! Yay, that's one book. :)

  4. I ahve Embers but have not read it yet. And The Historian, I never finished. How did you do on that, did you give up?

    I love the cover of The Hungarian cookbook.
    I added Valeria's Last Stand to my wishlist.
    I'm so glad this feature is back!!

  5. I have one in my TBR pile -- Book of Fathers by Miklos Vamos. Its narrative supposedly goes through 300 years in Hungary which I think will be fascinating if I can ever get to it!

  6. I am so excited that I have one of these books on my shelf (The Historian)!!! I usually don't, so this totally made my day!!

  7. Sandor Marai a lot of books. I say from experience, because I'm Hungarian. Unfortunately, the books can be difficult to get to know your country. Perhaps the Hungarian cuisine is what others would love known. The dishes are heavy. But who may be interested in the traditional Hungarian cooking.


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