NUP sajtóközlemény

The Ninth is a masterpiece. It represents a seamless meeting of language and subject, yielding a quietly radiant text. . . . [It] is an elegant book and a ruthless one. It is a courageous book, one that knows fear. As always the case with good literature, it is about us, wherever we may live in the world.” —Péter Esterházy, author of Celestial Harmonies

“Even privation can be picturesque, and Ferenc Barnás has both the eyes and the heart to prove this true. Thanks to his talent, the reader sees the world through the eyes of a poor nine-year-old boy, and he doesn’t fare badly at all with this transformation.” —George Konrád, author of The Case Worker

“[Barnás] is a singular, original voice in contemporary Hungarian fiction. [He] gives voice to the forgotten, the quirky, the indigent, the miserable.” —Ivan Sanders, Columbia University

Ferenc Barnás’s Scheduled Readings for The Ninth in the North America
Brooklyn, NY June 6 CAKE Interdisciplinary Series, Chez Bushwick (
New Brunswick, NJ June 12 American Hungarian Foundation (
Toronto, ON June 14 Hungarian Canadian Cultural Centre (
Chicago, IL June 24 57th Street Books (
The translation was supported by PEN American Center.
The author’s trip is sponsored by the Hungarian Book Foundation.

It is no coincidence the Northwestern University Press chose acclaimed Hungarian novelist Ferenc Barnás’s The Ninth: A Novel (May; $16.95; pbk original) as one of the books to launch the new design for our Unbound Europe series. The Ninth is a prime example of why translated literature is hot again, for it balances universal appeal with unique look into life behind the Iron Curtain told in a daring style tightly composed.

Set in Communist Hungary of the late sixties, Barnás’s novel follows the ninth child in a devout Catholic family living north of Budapest. The family is lead by a strict, uncompromising patriarch, a former pre-communist army officer and rail worker who struggles to make ends meet with a cottage industry manufacturing rosaries and devotional objects, while attempting to avoid unwanted attention of the government. Barnás, as skillfully translated by Paul Olchváry, achieves a rare feat by telling the story in the voice of the young boy. Told through dialog, memory, and dreams, the Faulknerian narrative challenges the reader to piece together the trauma and guilt that the boy experiences after suffering bullying and abuse at the hands of his schoolmates. This compact story of childhood, trying times, and faith is ultimately rewarding, and drives forward with an unrelenting moral force behind it.

The Ninth showcases a writer at the peak of his abilities, and I hope that you will consider continuing the ongoing work of spreading the word about great literature in translation.


Ferenc Barnás (b. 1959) is an acclaimed Hungarian novelist whose books include Az élősködő (The Parasite) and Bagatell (Bagatelle). He is the recipient of two of Hungary’s highest literary honors: the Sándor Márai Prize (2001) and the Tibor Déry Prize (2006).

Paul Olchváry has translated many books from Hungarian and has received translation grants from PEN America, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.


The mission of Northwestern University Press is the publication of books that disseminate knowledge and further understanding of cultural, political, social, and community issues. Since its inception in 1893, Northwestern University Press has produced important scholarly works in various disciplines as well as quality regional and Chicago books, fiction, poetry, literature in translation, literary criticism, and books on drama and the performing arts. Northwestern University Press authors have been the recipients of numerous prizes, including the Nobel Prize for Literature, the National Book Award, and the Tony Award. For more information and a complete list of Northwestern University Press titles, please visit

Book Details

Title: THE NINTH: A Novel
Author: Ferenc Barnás
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Publication: May; $16.95; 160 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8101-2602-2

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