The White King

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007 - Fiction - 263 pages
21 Reviews
An international sensation, this startling and heartbreaking debut introduces us to precocious eleven-year-old Djata, whose life in the totalitarian state he calls home is about to change forever.

Djata doesn’t know what to make of the two men who lead his father away one day, nor does he understand why his mother bursts into tears when he brings her tulips on her wedding anniversary. He does know that he must learn to fill his father’s shoes, even though among his friends he is still a boy: fighting with neighborhood bullies, playing soccer on radioactive grass, having inappropriate crushes, sneaking into secret screening rooms, and shooting at stray cats with his gun-happy grandfather. But the random brutality of Djata’s world is tempered by the hilarious absurdity of the situations he finds himself in, by his enduring faith in his father’s return, and by moments of unexpected beauty, hope, and kindness.
Structured as a series of interconnected stories propelled by the energy of Dragomán’s riveting prose, the chapters of The White King collectively illuminate the joys and humiliations of growing up, while painting a multifaceted and unforgettable portrait of life in an oppressive state and its human cost. And as in the works of Mark Haddon, David Mitchell, and Marjane Satrapi, Djata’s child’s-eye view lends power and immediacy to his story, making us laugh and ache in recognition and reminding us all of our shared humanity.

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1 Tulips
2 Jump
3 End of the World
4 Pickax
5 Jamming
6 Numbers
7 Valve
8 Gift
13 Chestnut Roll
14 Plenty
15 Cinema
16 Pact
17 View
18 Funeral
Back Matter
Back Flap

9 War
10 Africa
11 Playing Search
12 Gold
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About the author (2007)

Novelist and translator GYÖRGY DRAGOMÁN was born in Transylvania in 1973 and moved to Hungary when he was fifteen. His first novel, The White King, has been translated into more than twenty languages and went on to win the Sandor Márai Prize and the Jan Michaelski Prize. Dragomán lives in Budapest with his wife and two children. Translated from the Hungarian by PAUL OLCHVÁRY.

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