Notes from a Bear Researcher

László András
Novel (Nyitott Konyvmuhely), 2010, 232 pages

„Sometimes in my dream of the all-recorders we seem to be the females and males of a beautiful species, the beautiful representatives of a half-machine, half-flesh species.”

In this poetic and enchanting novel, out of an improbable and perhaps quite fictional world, a bear researcher called Oneofus steps out into a very real albeit no less improbable world, that of “The Bureau”. The Bureau is the perfect opposite of his earlier life in nature, ruled by the simple and pragmatic rules of the wilderness: an ineffable labyrinth of ranks, divisions and administration, much in the Central-European vein of Kafka and Musil.

Onofeus drops in almost accidentally into this world, and falls in love with Taura, a woman for whom he gives up his earlier life and decides to try to fit into the new system of the Bureau, becoming one of the tiny cogwheels in the giant machine. But as he slowly ascends the bureaucratic hierarchy, the romance withers away and both him and Taura become weary of their relationship.

In this novel’s world, there are no heroes, the world is fixed and immutable, and if there’s one thing it won’t accommodate, that’s happiness. To find that, one must exit this world. But once you’re on the outside, you’re mostly alone – unless you’re immensely lucky. After having been out and alone, our hero tries to be happy on the inside. He gets tangled up in the Bureau’s mysteries as his career takes an upswing. By the time he gets to the top, it seems there’s nothing left of the man that he once was. Or is there?





“The question remains, whether our achievements are only valid at home, or at least within the Judeo-Christian culture? Finally, whether or not a bear researcher has any research findings applicable to anyone but himself? The answer is precise and not the least bit misleading. Yes. No.”
Attila Bartis

“This book is cozy, yet unique, like Winnie the Pooh. And just as lovable. And just as put-downable: not. And just as much about bears: very much so, yet not at all. Because it’s about people. And the world of the millennium. And Hungary. We can learn how one very clever and even sadder grown-up sees the world, blessed or cursed as he is with alluring humour. Beside that of Milne, András László also takes up the tradition of Franz Kafka, to make the disenchantedly suspicious Central European reader feel at home: we are presented with a mind-bogglingly exact portrait of the same Bureau that Kafka had written a century ago, and which is still very much alive and well in the twenty-first century. Emotions cloaked in with and irony, and a cathartic ending. Only reading it is easy.”
István Kemény



László András was born in 1966. He started writing poetry in the eigthies, publishing his work between 1984-88. Since then, he hasn’t published a thing, stating that he never felt he wrote anything that satisfied him – until his first novel, Notes from a Bear Researcher. Before that, he worked as a librarian, a social worker, and finished his degree of Hungarian literature and History. It’s been fifteen years now that he works as a media observer. More on the author

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