The Greatest Hungarian "Fiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. The Notebook: The Proof ; The Third Lie : Three Novels by Agota Kristof

    "The Notebook: The Proof ; The Third Lie : Three Novels" is a trilogy of novels that follow the lives of twin brothers, living through the harsh realities of war, separation, and betrayal. The first novel, "The Notebook," tells the story of their survival as children in a rural town at the end of World War II. The second book, "The Proof," continues their story into adulthood, exploring the effects of their traumatic childhood. The final book, "The Third Lie," delves into the complexities of their relationship and the secrets they kept from one another. The trilogy is a poignant exploration of identity, love, and the enduring bond of brotherhood.

  2. 2. Celestial Harmonies by Peter Esterhazy

    "Celestial Harmonies" is a historical novel that tells the story of the aristocratic Esterházy family, tracing their lineage from the late Middle Ages to the present day. The narrative is divided into two parts, with the first part featuring a series of vignettes about the family's ancestors, while the second part focuses on the experiences of the narrator's father under the Communist regime in Hungary. The novel is characterized by its intricate structure, complex themes, and lush, poetic language, offering a rich exploration of Hungarian history, family dynamics, and the human condition.

  3. 3. The Door by Szabó, Magda

    "The Door" by Magda Szabo is a novel about the relationship between two women, one of whom is a writer and the other is her housekeeper. The story explores themes of class, power, and the complexities of human relationships. As the two women become increasingly intertwined, their relationship becomes more and more complicated, leading to unexpected consequences for both of them. The novel is a powerful exploration of the human condition, and a poignant reminder of the importance of understanding and empathy in our interactions with others.

  4. 4. The Melancholy of Resistance by László Krasznahorkai

    "The Melancholy of Resistance" is a surreal and philosophical novel set in a small Hungarian town that becomes isolated by a massive snowstorm. The arrival of a mysterious circus, featuring a stuffed whale and a silent, enigmatic leader, brings with it a wave of change and unrest. The narrative explores themes of chaos, resistance, and the struggle for power through the perspectives of various townsfolk, including a reclusive music theorist and a former political dissident. The novel is known for its complex, long-winded sentences and its bleak yet profound examination of human nature and society.

  5. 5. Satantango by László Krasznahorkai

    "Satantango" is a bleak and atmospheric novel set in a small Hungarian village, where a group of desperate and disillusioned characters become entangled in a web of deception, corruption, and despair. As they navigate through the decaying landscape and their own inner demons, the novel explores themes of power, greed, and the human capacity for both cruelty and redemption. With its rich prose and intricate storytelling, "Satantango" offers a haunting and thought-provoking reflection on the human condition.

  6. 6. Helping Verbs Of The Heart by Peter Esterhazy

    "Helping Verbs Of The Heart" by Peter Esterhazy is a thought-provoking and introspective novel that delves into the complexities of love and relationships. Through a series of interconnected stories and characters, the book explores the various ways in which love can shape and define our lives. With lyrical prose and deep emotional insight, Esterhazy examines the power of love to both heal and wound, and ultimately leaves readers pondering the profound impact that love can have on the human heart.

  7. 7. Pete Pite by Gábor Nógrádi

    "Pete Pite" is a children's book that follows the adventures of a young boy named Pete, who is known for his insatiable curiosity and inventive spirit. Living in a small village, Pete's inquisitive nature often leads him into amusing and sometimes challenging situations. With his trusty sidekick, a dog named Pite, Pete embarks on a series of escapades that teach him valuable life lessons about friendship, responsibility, and the importance of imagination. Through his experiences, Pete not only solves problems and helps his friends but also grows and learns about the world around him.

  8. 8. A Book Of Memories by Peter Nadas

    "A Book of Memories" is a complex narrative that weaves together the lives of a young Hungarian intellectual, his friends, and lovers, set against the backdrop of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The novel delves into themes of memory, history, and identity, exploring the protagonist's personal relationships and his struggle with his own sexuality. Rich in philosophical and psychological insights, the book is a tapestry of stories within stories, where the past and present intertwine, and characters search for meaning in a world marked by political turmoil and social change.

  9. 9. Jadviga Párnája by Pál Závada

    "Jadviga Párnája" is a historical novel set in a Hungarian village at the turn of the 20th century. It delves into the life of a young woman named Jadviga, who is of Polish descent, and her marriage to a Hungarian man, András. The narrative unfolds through a series of letters, diary entries, and other documents, painting a vivid picture of rural life, social norms, and the personal struggles of the characters. The novel explores themes of love, fidelity, identity, and the complexities of human relationships against the backdrop of a society grappling with change and the influences of modernity.

  10. 10. The Book Of Fathers by Miklós Vámos

    "The Book of Fathers" chronicles the lives of twelve generations of men from a Hungarian family, spanning over 300 years from the 18th century to the modern day. Each chapter focuses on one descendant, capturing the historical and personal challenges they face, from the rise and fall of empires to the intimate struggles of love and loss. The novel weaves a tapestry of Hungarian history and the family's legacy, marked by a mystical diary that is passed down from father to son, which possesses the power to influence the fate of its keeper. Through the generations, the book becomes a symbol of the family's heritage and the enduring connection between the past and the future.

  11. 11. Animalinside by László Krasznahorkai, Max Neumann

    "Animalinside" is a haunting and surreal novella that delves into the mind of a narrator who becomes consumed by an animalistic alter ego. As the protagonist's thoughts and actions blur the line between human and animal, the narrative takes on a dark and disorienting tone, exploring themes of identity, violence, and the primal instincts that lie within us all. Through the collaboration of Krasznahorkai's mesmerizing prose and Neumann's striking illustrations, "Animalinside" offers a mesmerizing and thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche.

  12. 12. Gergő és Az álomfogók by Gyula Böszörményi

    In this enchanting tale, a young boy named Gergő discovers a mysterious world of dream catchers who are responsible for protecting dreams from the nightmares that seek to disrupt them. As Gergő embarks on a thrilling adventure, he learns about the delicate balance between the dream world and reality, and the importance of confronting one's fears. With the help of new friends and his own courage, Gergő must navigate through this fantastical realm to ensure that the harmony of dreams is preserved for himself and others. Along the way, he gains insights into bravery, friendship, and the power of imagination.

  13. 13. állítsátok Meg Terézanyut! by Zsuzsa Rácz

    "Állítsátok meg Terézanyut!" is a comedic novel that delves into the complexities of family life through the lens of Hungarian culture. The story centers around a middle-aged woman whose children have grown up and are leading their own lives, leaving her to navigate the challenges of an empty nest. As she attempts to maintain control over her family and their affairs, her overbearing nature leads to a series of humorous and heartwarming misadventures. The novel explores themes of motherhood, independence, and the evolving dynamics of familial relationships, all while offering a satirical look at the generational gaps and societal expectations within a modern family setting.

  14. 14. Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas

    This novel is a vast and intricate narrative that weaves together the lives of characters across different generations and locations, primarily in Hungary and Germany, spanning from the 1930s to the 1980s. Through a series of interconnected stories, the book explores themes of identity, history, sexuality, and politics, delving deep into the personal and collective experiences of its characters. The narrative structure is complex, with a rich tapestry of details and a deep psychological insight into human nature, reflecting on the impact of historical events on individual lives and the interconnectedness of human experiences across time and space.

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.