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Distributed for Seagull Books

The Birth of Emma K.

An inventive collection of stories by one of the most prominent and acclaimed writers in Hungary today.
The Birth of Emma K., a collection of twelve short stories rich with magic, introduces English-language readers to one of the most vibrant and original voices in contemporary Hungarian literature. Zsolt Láng’s new collection opens with God sitting on a bench looking over Budapest; later, a Hungarian man who has stumbled into a Romanian music theory class suddenly finds he is able to speak expertly about Hungarian composer Béla Bartok—and in perfect Romanian; and even later, against all odds, the embryo of Emma fights for her future life from within the womb. Drifting between melancholic and witty, in sentences that are winding, subtle, and colloquial, Láng’s stories are deeply rooted in Transylvanian culture and history. Reminiscent of the best writings of Irish modernist masters such as Samuel Beckett and Flann O’Brien, The Birth of Emma K. presents an unforgettable collage of human nature.

200 pages | 6 x 9

The Hungarian List


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"These are not stories for readers who want a fictionalized world to roll out smoothly before them. These are stories about characters who live in an enigmatic world, who transform as their world simultaneously changes."

Litro Magazine

"The Birth of Emma K. sucks you in, whirls you around, and then, much like Emma K. herself, spits you out into a world that is complex and harsh, yet compelling and seductive—bounded by forces beyond our control, but in which we must inevitably take part. Like life itself, this collection will at times leave you dazed and confused, but craving more."


Table of Contents

1. God on Gellért Hill
2. Daphne
3. Chestnut
4. Like a Shaggy Ink Cap Mushroom
5. At the Western Gate
6. Open Lesson
7. The Story of Money
8. Loneliness
9. Before Midnight
10. Madhouse
11. The Cloister of Sanctuary
12. The Birth of Emma K.

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