Parallel Stories

Peter Nádas

Parallel Stories

In 1989, the memorable year when the Wall came down, a university student in Berlin on his early morning run finds a corpse lying on a park bench and alerts the authorities. This classic police-procedural scene opens an extraordinary novel, a masterwork that traces the fate of myriad Europeans - Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Gypsies - across the treacherous years of the mid-twentieth century. The social and political circumstances of their lives may vary richly, their sexual and spiritual longings may seem to each of them entirely unique, yet Peter Nádas's magnificent tapestry unveils uncanny, reverberating parallels that link them across time and space. 2.4 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Parallel Stories

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 1152
RRP £35.00
Date of Publication November 2011
ISBN 978-0224094009
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

In 1989, the memorable year when the Wall came down, a university student in Berlin on his early morning run finds a corpse lying on a park bench and alerts the authorities. This classic police-procedural scene opens an extraordinary novel, a masterwork that traces the fate of myriad Europeans - Hungarians, Jews, Germans, Gypsies - across the treacherous years of the mid-twentieth century. The social and political circumstances of their lives may vary richly, their sexual and spiritual longings may seem to each of them entirely unique, yet Peter Nádas's magnificent tapestry unveils uncanny, reverberating parallels that link them across time and space.

Reviews

The Literary Review

George Gömöri

Nádas is closer to Proust and Musil, and even to Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, in his ultra-Freudian, or Lacanian, approach, as he is less interested in history for its own sake. He is more interested in his characters’ personal histories, backgrounds, relations and sexual behaviour, which determine and mould their perception of reality ... Yet the book is too ambitious in imagining that it can describe all the workings and secret sexual urges of the human body.

01/12/2011

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The Financial Times

Mark Damazer

His technique is uncompromising. There are no quotation marks for direct speech. Storylines change dramatically within chapters ... But Parallel Stories is worth the effort. There is so much invention and he exposes the stink of barbarous ideologies as well as anyone. He has been well served by his translator, Imre Goldstein, but Péter Nádas needs to find an editor.

23/12/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Thomas Marks

Its insistent structural repetition can feel indulgent and, with its large cast of navel-gazing characters, its preferred mode of “amplified inner monologue” intermittently falls prey to longueurs. That said, it’s with remarkable dexterity that Nádas splices together the political, sexual and emotional histories of two families, the Hungarian Lippay Lehrs and the German Döhrings. While theirs may be the parallel stories of the title, this is a boldly experimental novel that stubbornly refuses to follow straight lines.

17/11/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Toby Clements

This is an enormous book, and not even Tolstoy (to whose War and Peace Parallel Stories has been compared) can be expected to be brilliant all the time. The problem is that Parallel Stories is so packed out with … flaccid nonsense that its looping, multilayered plot becomes almost impossible to follow … but there is something charming about its complete pointlessness.

23/11/2011

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The New York Times

Benjamin Moser

Though at times masterly, the book is too maddening to be called a masterpiece. Excessive length and a cast of hundreds need not be deficits: an advantage of the doorstop novel is that the author can introduce many seemingly bewildering “parallel stories,” and then braid them together in unforeseen ways. Nadas, however, explicitly aimed not to braid them together … the book is all cul-de-sac and no street.

23/11/2011

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The Guardian

Tibor Fischer

It's a great historical soup, with bits of this and that bobbing around, seemingly thrown in randomly by the chef – or, more succinctly, a mess … Parallel Stories was a disappointment for me, but if you like the slow-motion charm of Broch, Musil or Krasznahorkai you might warm to this. And it has to be pointed out that the Hungarian critics have been enraptured by Parallel Stories.

11/11/2011

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The Independent

Michael Arditti

For all its ambition, the novel is both unfulfilled and unfulfilling. The title might serve as a warning that there will be no narrative convergence; nothing, however, prepares the reader for the lack of narrative coherence.

16/12/2011

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