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Monday 23 Oct 2017
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Xpatloop Interview - Iris Zwack - Novelist and promoter of Hungarian modern art

Xpatloop Interview - Iris Zwack - Novelist and promoter of Hungarian modern art

Iris Masters Zwack has spent her entire adult life living out of a suitcase. From the age of 15, when she moved to Italy to be with her Hungarian father and his wife, Anne when all hell broke loose in terms of travel. She has lived in many cities for long periods of time. From Chicago to New York City, to Florence, then Rome, Boston, Seattle and most importantly Budapest, which she started frequenting since 1989 what with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 29th of November.

She had many important reasons for moving from New York City that same year. An unsavory marriage to an Italian Banker and the fact that her father, Peter Zwack, was invited to buy back a share of the family company, Zwack Unicum & Tarsai, all catapulted her to Budapest a city often called, "The Paris of the East."

The first round of her time spent in Hungary was from 1989-2000. Back then there were only a handful of expats mostly teaching English to the population and partaking in Joint Ventures in which they assisted Hungarian business men and woman to transition in to a market economy.

After her first stint in Hungary she returned to the states to be with her mother and siblings. She lived in beautiful Newport Rhode Island often referred as "the city by the sea.' for 12 years. She never thought she would decide to move back to Hungary, but hey....things change...

She finished her first novel, "Great is God's Zoo" in 2014 and began a series of book signings in the States. She decided to do one in Budapest as well. On April 11th 2015 she returned to "The Father Land' as she laughingly refers Budapest. In the 1990's she referred to it as her "sexy tramp!"

Things had changed significantly in her absence. Fine restaurants at the turn of every city center corner, supermarkets full of international goodies and the elegant Andrassy ut with high end boutiques the likes of Vuitton, Gucci and Michael Kors. The vestiges of communism were erased as much as can be in such a small time.

She was so pleased to see the city physically in good shape and having reconnected to 80% of the expats she has shared so many adventurous years. However regardless of all of the renovation she can still see bullet pocks all over the city acquired in June 1945 after WW2, where Hungarians, Americans and Russians clashed in a 2 day frenzy obliterating an enormous part of the city and all of the bridges adjoining Buda to Pest.

Long story short, she packed up her belongings and sold her house in the States and now lives in Buda with her two Vizslas and two newly acquired Siamese cats. Currently she is onto her second novel, "The Fifty Minute Hour" and has found herself working with a team of five promoting Hungarian art internationally.

To sum things up, her curiosity has led Iris to many sorts of adventures inspiring several chapters of "Great is God's Zoo.' In hindsight given the calculated risks she has taken she considers herself to come off of the roller coaster relatively unscathed!

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I first came to Hungary 28 years ago starting 1990. Big chance for my family… Family and the love I have for Budapest brought me back.

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
I have spent half of my adult life in Tuscany with my family too.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
Everything!

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
The main museums, the baths, castle district, and upscale Hungarian restaurant. The Zwack Museum of course!

5. What is your favorite Hungarian food?
Stuffed cabbage, roasted duckling

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Champagne, grapes, cheese. You never know when somebody will be stopping by!

7. What is your favorite Hungarian word?
Gyönyörű (beautiful)

8. What do you miss the most from home?
Barnes & Noble. The ocean in Newport.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
A reporter at CNN

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
Garbage man, fast food employee, mortician!

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Lisbon, Portugal

12. Where do you hope to spend your next one?
Hévíz, going for a week

13. What was your favorite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Any and all music. Often times music has led my life, but please no country music or rap

14. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
Hungarian Vizslas and Siamese cats!!!!!

15. Red wine or white?
Sauska 2015 Hungary Chardonnay, Sonoma Cutrer Californian Chardonnay 2014.

16. Book or movie?
Movie: Rain Man, The Gladiator, Annie Hall. Book: The Hundred Years Old Man Who climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonason

17. Morning person or night person?
Morning. Sometimes predawn.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Abuse, environmental concern, American and Hungarian politics

19. Buda side or Pest side?
Buda gal from the get go

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
Nothing surprises me anymore!


02.08.2016

 




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