Yudit Kiss left Hungary as an adult. Her poignant memoir The Summer My Father Died captures her awakening to her own Jewish origins and the shortcomings of Communism as her father, a party official, is dying in Budapest. Kiss and translator George Szirtes discuss the lives and common values of their parents’ generation, Jewish Hungarians who clung to Communist ideology in the face of changing times.
The father is a Jewish Holocaust survivor determined to write a great work that will establish the merits of Communism for good, the mother from a family of landless servants. Theirs is an intellectual household filled with books. As her father succumbs to illness, Kiss is confronted with the contradictions and lies that form part of her country’s and family’s life.
Kiss and Szirtes discussed the common identity, memories and heritage that brought them together to work on her book, from the objects they lived with and the words their parents used to answer their questions.
Yudit Kiss, born in Budapest in 1956, is an economic development researcher based in Geneva. She is the author of academic publications and articles, published among others, by the Guardian, Lettre International, OpenDemocracy, Eurozine, Nexos and Gazeta Wyborcza. The Summer My Father Died is her first literary work.
George Szirtes is a poet and translator born in Hungary, who moved to Britain as a refugee and who writes in English. He has won various prizes for his poetry, including the T S Eliot Prize in 2005. His many translations include novels by Sándor Márai and László Krasznahorkai. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.