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9 Kilo (Nine Kilos)
October 2006
German
190 pages
5 EUR
978-3-937158-21-1

Novel
Paper-bound, 14 x 22 cm, translated from the Hungarian by Agnes Relle.

Published with the friendly support of the translation fund of the Hungarian Book Foundation.

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The Hungarian author Zsuzsa Selyem, who lives in Cluj, has given her new novel the title 9 Kilo. In the subtitle, she provocatively juxtaposes this consciously trivially chosen title with psalm 119 from the Book of Psalms. On the one hand is a weight of 9 kilos; on the other psalm 119 with its 22 verses arranged according to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Their language wavers between colloquialisms devoid of metaphors, scientific hypotheses on the creation of this world, theological reflections, diary entries and poetic passages in which the protagonists’ inner emotions seem to be both lies and truth.

The narrator then abruptly juxtaposes personal experience, mathematical, philosophical and religious reflections on Judaism and Christianity and creates a complex structure, which exposes the breakdown of an epoch with quiet irony, yet is never bitter. Inner monologues, dialogues of people who cannot connect, dreams, fragments of poetry and unfulfilled love stories. All of this takes place in the no-man’s land of eastern European cities, in a time dominated by the amnesia of postcommunism, in which neither divine law nor sensual love is possible anymore.

Within the contemporary Hungarian literary scene, which is almost entirely male-dominated, Selyem raises a singular female voice whose difference will be undoubtedly be made clear with her novel 9 Kilo - which will appear in Hungarian in Kolozsvár, Romania simultaneously with the German edition.

Zsuzsa Selyem, born in 1967, works as a literary critic and author in Kolozsvár/Cluj Napoca, Romania, where she is a lecturer in the literary department of Babes Bolyai University. Zsuzsa Selyem has published several books, including one on Peter Esterházy and one on contemporary Hungarian literature as a copublisher. In 2005 she was a recipient of an Akademie Schloss Solitude fellowship under the auspices of an author exchange program with the József Attila Circle in Budapest.