The Year of the Rat

borito_rgb_kicsiImre Bartók
Novel (Libri), 2013, 576 pages

“Life is not a dollhouse, Martin; life is an 800 metre sprint in the quicksand.”

An astonishing, groundbreaking work of Hungarian fiction, the novel of the young author Imre Bartók would even raise the eyebrows of Thomas Pynchon. Set in contemporary New York, this action-packed philosophical roller-coaster ride follows the resurrected and bio-mechanically enhanced versions of the three emblematic thinkers of the 20th century, Karl Marx, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Martin Heidegger as they commit a series of hideous murders and terrorist attacks in order to trigger a total apocalypse and engineer the end of mankind from the heart of the Big Apple.

Are they mortal or immortal? Are they evil, or just true to their ideas? Is it their fate to survive the demise of the human race, or are they doomed to go down with it? They don’t know the answer themselves, because deep down, under all that metal and technology which has been used to manipulate their bodies, they are more human that one might think. All three have their own traumas and frustrations and an insatiable lust for friendship and love, which makes their life quite difficult, given the whirlwind of events they are caught up in.

Written in a rich, dense language that sometimes turns into real poetry, and juxtaposing Tarantino-like showdowns with scenes of Kafkaesque awkwardness from the private lives and dialogues of the philosphers, The Year of the Rat can be read either as a modern cyberpunk thriller or a radical pamphlet about the current state of Western philosophy and civilization.



An absolutely unique book. Something you will never forget after having read it. It would be interesting to look into the head of the author, to see what thoughts, themes, ideas are there. How did he manage to write this book, on what inspiration. It’s frightening, thought-provoking, yet it has some kind of beauty in it too.”

“The cheap and quite old story of the end of mankind and the final apocalypse is written by Bartók in an incredibly dense, literary prose.”
Ferenc Jeges-Varga,

“The second novel of Imre Bartók is important for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a young, literary author venturing into the field of genre literature. It is always interesting to see how someone from the outside uses well-known clichés and what comes out of the chosen theme in his hands. Secondly, while there is already very little science fiction or really original fantasy published by Hungarian authors, this type of darker, post-apocalyptic or even post-human kind of fiction is even more rare. Thirdly, we can also rejoice in the publication of The Year of the Rat because most Hungarian genre novels tend to be a bit too humble about themselves. Authors tend to avoid really immersing themselves into the worlds they create. But Bartók’s novel, on the contrary, is a very brave work. […] Probably the firts Hungarian example of the ‘new weird’.”
Sfinsider, SFmag




bartok imre 2Imre Bartók was born in 1985 in Budapest. He got his philosophy degree at the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest, and published two monographs, one on the poetry of Paul Celan (2009), and one on Rainer Maria Rilke (2011). His first novel, Metal (Fém) was published in 2011. The Year of the Rat, published in 2012, is the first part of a trilogy, with the second part coming out in 2014 and the third in 2015. More on the author

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