God's Zoo captures the brutality of the Second World War in Eastern Europe, told through the eyes of young Fenix, a boy who lives in the small Hungarian-Czechoslovak city of Ipolyság. Fenix lives in a loveless world, abused by his cold, materialistic mother, and neglected by his often absent father. He seeks refuge in the care of Judit, a young woman who works as a nanny and servant in the family home. Judit and Fenix form a deep and complex bond that is at once familial and erotic, embodying friendship, kinship, motherhood, romantic love, and sexuality. Together, they bear witness to the city's successive occupation first by troops from Hungary, followed by the German army, and, finally, the Russians. As the devastating events of the war unfold around them, their love perseveres and grows stronger--until its surprising end.
Guernica Editions (Essential Translations Series)
250 pages |
Eroticism permeates the narrative, fleetingly yet profoundly, and the nimbus of poetry. God’s Zoo is ultimately a beautiful coming-of-age love story, one written in a deeply personal style (is it even possible to write otherwise?), but in which the reader may nevertheless find a sense of familiarity.
Caroline De Liever
The challenge, taken up here with fervent nostalgia, is to blend a satirical, ironic tone with a childish depiction of events, an irony that confronts the figures of oppression, whether Communist or Nazi, and the adult world. The result is a lucid phantasmagoria: onboard his electric train, Fenix recounts the tragedies that, one after another, carry away his loved ones. Like many writers, recounting the events of his life allows him to shed its cruelties … As Baudelaire once wrote: “Genius is childhood rediscovered by an act of will.”
About the author
Pablo Urbanyi received the Latin American Achievement Award. His books have been translated to English, French, and Hungarian.
Writer and translator Natalia Hero is the author of the novella Hum (2018). Her short fiction and translations have appeared in numerous publications. She lives in Montreal.