- 20 Mar 2012 8:00 AM
1. Budapest: A Critical Guide, by András Török.
Witty, personal, and tongue-in-cheek, this guidebook reads like a novel. If you’re on one of the walking tours in it, you can feel like a real Budapest native right off the bat.
The new edition, published in 2011, provides welcome updates, although I’m disappointed that the title and the cover are so boring. I guess that will make it even more of an exciting discovery when you read it and get to know that city from a native who’s really seen it all. I’ve heard András speak, and this mustachioed intellectual is just as witty and self-deprecating in person – a real wellspring of stories and insights.
He’s got lots more to say than what’s in the book… just check out his site, and see…
2. The Door, by Magda Szabó
Time to pick up a copy of this now, before you see the movie, slated for release this year - filmed in Budapest, directed by Oscar-winning Hungarian István Szabó and starring Helen Mirren… A housekeeper and the unnamed narrator who hires her embark on a battle of wills that turns into mutual dependency.
This isn’t necessarily a book that will teach you about Hungary, though it is set here in the 1960s - you can read it just for its pure literary brilliance in capturing such vibrant characters and their complex relationship.
Here is a review of the film, but do read the book!