Réka Mán-Várhegyi’s novel paints a vivid picture of the life of young academics in Hungary at the turn of the millennia. Enikő, a thirty-something feminist sociologist returns to Budapest from New York, brimming with research plans. Armed with state-of-the-art research methods and theories, she leaves her husband, an American performance artist, in order to write a “real self-help book” entitled The Misery of Hungarians. Yet she finds herself struggling with writer’s block.
Tamás Bogdán, a star lecturer at the university, a first-generation intellectual, is in a relationship with Enikő as well as with Réka, a student of them both. Réka, who is writing a novel, comes from a dystopian communist-style housing estate, a breeding-ground for neo-Nazi ideologies, which happens to be the subject of Bogdán’s research.
Magnetic Hill is much more than a campus novel: through the struggle of the main characters, we glimpse several layers of contemporary Hungarian society, each with their particular milieu, history, prejudices and challenges, from leftist liberal intellectuals and aristocratic families to marginalized groups. This eminently readable, often hilariously funny novel touches upon a number of questions, ranging from female identity to the intellectual’s responsibility in present day Hungary.
This project has been funded with support from the Creative Europe Programme of the European Commission.