The Hangman’s House

tompa_coverAndrea Tompa
Novel (Kalligram), 2010, 300 pages

“For man is an executioner and the body is his house.”

RIGHTS SOLD TO: Turkish (Dedalus Kitap)

In her first work of literature, the distinguished theatre critic Andrea Tompa sets her sights on the grand epic.Born in Cluj-Napoca, Romania — that cultural-economic center of Transylvania which Hungarians (including the city’s sizeable population thereof) know as Kolozsvár — Tompa devotes her first work of fiction to reimagining her hometown. Not even while Romania was led by the dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu did this colorful city lose its luster, and this book’s smart, cultured narrators thoroughly scan the spaces of “inner freedom” that lurked within the country’s otherwise constricting, dictatorial atmosphere.

The book comprises thirty-eight chapters and as many different sentences that feel like novels in and of themselves; that is to say, Tompa adopts the style of Thomas Bernhard aptly, telling her story by way of musically structured colossal sentences and epic fugues. Each and every sentence goes practically to the limit of breathing itself, of what is possible to express. The novel’s other virtue, alongside its meticulously crafted language and its richly detailed, informative story is its theatrical nature, its vivid immortalization of dramatic situations. In the theater of memory, every city is made up both of stages and behind-the-scenes places—comprising a fiction that seeks to trace the elusive trails by which we remember the past.



“a perfectly formed novel of exceptional and poignant beauty”
Sarolta Deczki, Hugarian Literature Online (read the complete review in English)

“an opus magnum with a complex system of symbols, where things happen paralelly on different levels and which can be read in many ways, which with it’s meticulously written and closed one-sentence chapters paints an almost painfully accurate portrait of the times, becoming a cruel analysis of the recent past, the fathers, mothers, and inevitably the author herself…”
Gábor Vida, Népszabadság

“a book that deserves attention and even more than that; Andrea Tompa is in no need of the usual politeness of critcs when they write about a debutant author, since her prose is very well accomplished, and was rightly awarded the Debut Prize of the Foundation for Hungarian Literature in Transylvania (Erdély Magyar Irodalmáért Alapítvány)”
Ferenc Darvasi,




tompa-portraitABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Tompa was born in 1971 in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), where she got her degree in Hungarian and Russian studies. From the turn of the millennium, she started working as a theatre critic in Hungary. She is the author of two novels. More on the author

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