Black Dacia

Róbert Csaba Szabó
Short stories (Libri), 2012, 210 pages

„No one had the faintest idea of who it could be. Which is to say that of course everyone knew precisely. Finally they’d murdered him all over again.”

A man promises to cure a woman from infertility, provided that she agrees to give up several of her limbs to the strange doctor for amputation. A journalist investigates the case of someone who has killed his parents in their bed when he was only a baby. A young hotel boy assures the new guests that the dead men fished from the sea will come back to life in a few minutes. An old policeman is hunting for cannibals in the Carpathian mountains.

A couple visits distant relatives who seem to hide family ghosts in the upper rooms of their hotel. Strange red creatures cross the Danube, putting the men working on the barges in mortal danger. A Zeppelin crosses the sky of an old Saxon town, taking with itself the souls of the dead. An invincible soldier is sawn together from the different bodyparts of three brothers during World War I. The Devil himself roams the brothels of Cluj, caught in an eternal cycle of fornication. A black Dacia, once belonging to a secret service agent of the Ceauşescu era who was beaten to death by the villagers during the Revolution, haunts the roads around the village, keeping awake the conscience of the residents.

In the short stories of Black Dacia, the young author Róbert Csaba Szabó takes the classical gothic horror tale to an environment which is maybe the second best place for it after the misty Albion: the legendary mountains, ancient cities and isolated villages of Transylvania and wider Romania. With exceptional athmospheric talent and a great sense of suspense, the author does not only succeed in telling great stories that entertain and horrify at the same time, but also finds a way to talk about the unearthed secrets and crimes of the preceding dictatorial system and the revolution, things that were never talked about openly and which still haunt the minds and souls of everyone living now in contemporary Romania.



Black Dacia is a collection of ’postmodern’ gothic horror stories from Transylvania: according to the obvious intentions of the author, it is quite hard to decide when reading these short stories that from the events accounted in them, how much is actually rooted in local folklore and how much is added by the writer’s own imagination.”
Gábor Reichert, Kötve-fűzve

„The book does not simply keeps the promise that the genre and the region offers, but gives much more. We are in a company where there is not a single moment of boredom, and time flies on gilded wings.”
Péter Demény, Élet és Irodalom

„I have grown to like this style very much. I never would have imagined that this polished little book, quite classical in all it’s novelty, would be asking for a sequel. And what is more, create some new, general interest short stories.”





Róbert Csaba Szabó  was born in 1981 in Szilágybagos, Romania, a village mainly inhabitated by ethnic Hungarians. He published three collections of short stories in Transylvania, Black Dacia being his first published by a major Hungarian publishing house. He currently works as editor-in-chief of one of the most important Hungarian cultural reviews in Romania, called Látó. He lives in Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely), Romania. Read more on the author

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