Review of Szécsi’s The Finno-Ugrian Vampire on Magic Realism

‘This book is so many things – it’s a coming of age tale, it’s about following one’s calling and ignoring the demands of family tradition, it is political and social satire, it plays with words, language and literature. One thing it is not is a conventional vampire story… funny and intelligent and had me giggling and snorting in an embarrassing way… this book is a delight.’ Zoe Brooks, Magic Realism

 

More praise for Noémi Szécsi’s The Finno-Ugrian Vampire:

Voted the Best Book in Hungary in 2011.

Selected for Adapting For Cinema project. 

‘Most innovative, trenchant vampire tale…Two engines drive this most unconventional bildungsroman: Jerne’s witty, sardonic narrative voice and “Grandma.”…It’s her [Jerne] voice—misogynistic, wry, astute, and unfailingly deadpan—that keeps us rapidly turning pages even as we savor every sentence….The Finno-Ugrian Vampire belongs at the top of your “must-read” list.’ Michael A. Morrison, World Literature Today

‘Written in 2001, long before the recent teenage craze for the Twilight films, The Finno-Ugrian Vampire now appears in Peter Sherwood’s skilful and entertaining translation…amusing postmodernist farce…If at first she [Jerne] believes literature might provide an alternative to the vocation of vampirehood, maturity yields the discovery that authors feed on each other just as voraciously as do bloodsuckers on the living.’ Zsuzsanna Varga, The Times Literary Supplement

‘Sherwood’s translation is noteworthy—skillful but unobtrusive. Lauded in Szécsi’s native Hungary and popular in Europe, this tale of an awkward vampire amuses; the disaffected protagonist and the inherent absurdity of vampires in a mundane setting provide a looking glass with which to examine modern life.’Publishers Weekly

‘a clever satire on the whole notion of Hungarian-ness, nationalism and the stereotypes of Eastern Europe…played for laughs’ Tibor Fischer, Saturday Guardian

The Finno-Ugrian Vampire clearly will take its place alongside other present renditions of the vampire myth, including the novels of Anne Rice and the most recent Twilight series. (Perhaps it is unfair to compare Jerne to the rather lock-jawed Bella, but there is certainly no contest when it comes to wit.) Hopefully, readers will find their way to this eminently enjoyable novel, in the highly readable translation of Peter Sherwood.’ Ottilie Mulzet, Hungarian Literature Online

‘If you’ve ever felt like the outsider, even within your own family, Jerne’s tale will resonate like struck crystal. Gawkily unpredictable and meandering, wry and clever and vivid, this is not the vampire story you’re expecting’ WhichBook

‘Strange book in two parts that I both appreciated even if I’m partial to the first one. Do not think about the usual vampire book, because this one has nothing to share with twilight or similaria and the grandmother was one of the funniest character I recently came along’ Libritudine

‘Very funny…The book is witty and bleak, and in the first half in particular it’s lightly drawn together. The second part is more absurd and defiant in its refusal to become what readers might expect’ For Books’ Sake

The Finno-Ugrian Vampire understands that finding one’s own place in the world, the struggle to move beyond the parental yoke, is a far more terrifying reality than falling prey to a creature of darkness…Textured with a witty and ironic language, the novel takes no prisoners…the English language reader should welcome this translation with open arms (or fangs).’ Richard W Jackson, Bookgeeks

‘fascinating novel! I loved the refreshing take on vampires, going back to a more traditional view of bloodsucking and coffin-sleeping creatures who, against tradition, go out in the daylight and work meaningless jobs and live in less than privileged circumstances despite being rich.’ A World of Randomness

‘a fascinating read, very accessible and entertaining, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. Grandma is one of the most original characters I’ve come across for a long time and the contrast between her revelry in vampiredom and Jerne’s reluctance is very well done’ A Discount Ticket to Everywhere

‘an entertaining, sly commentary on Hungary…All in all: an odd, enjoyable literary-vampiric romp’ Complete Review

‘clever and witty piece…refreshing injection of sardonic humour into the vampire vein. Vampy Grandma, with her silk evening dresses and painted toenails is a triumph…I also admired the novel for its linguistic inventiveness’ Bookoxygen

 

Read an interview with Noémi Szécsi.

Read Peter Sherwood’s reflections on translating The Finno-Ugrian Vampire.

Buy the paperback or Kindle on Amazon.