Attila Bartis
Rumania / Hungary
Attila Bartis was born in Marosvásárhely, in Transylvania, Rumania in 1968. His family belonged to the Hungarian minority, and his father – a journalist – was subject to reprisals until the family moved to Budapest in 1984. In the Hungarian capital, Attila Bartis trained as a photographer; since then he has worked in that profession and his photographs have been shown in various exhibitions.

After six years in the writing, Bartis' first novel "A séta" (German: Der Spaziergang [The Stroll], 1999) was published in 1995. Already, this work adopts the characteristic oppressive and cool tone that runs through the author's subsequent texts, reminding critics of Kafka, Camus and A. L. Kennedy. The novel describes a childhood and youth during the period of the Hungarian revolution, borne with a stolid acceptance of suffering. Taken to a home after the death of her grandfather, the protagonist has to witness the death of a loved teacher in an attack. Later she finds refuge in a house visited by scurrilous old men who die one after another. The emergence of sexuality and advancing adulthood are little more than fresh painful experiences. Impressive images, barren dialogues and a strange to macabre action that is narrated in a brief, anecdotal manner with remembered sequences and digressions, all create a bleak atmosphere and a cold lack of emotion. Bartis' second book, the volume of stories "A kéklö pára" (1998; "Bluish Mist"), describes childhood experiences before the background of the restrictive Communist system from the protagonist's reflective, still immature perspective.

Bartis' subsequent novel, "A nyugalom" (2001), was translated into German as "Die Ruhe" (Tranquility) in 2005. It tells of a young writer and his mother, who was once a celebrated state actress. When her daughter's flight to the West means that she is no longer able to perform on stage, she locks herself away in her house and tyrannises her son, who is incapable of breaking away. No trace of hope enters his life until he experiences a love affair, as passionate as it is fragile. In the novel, which is often perceived as a novel of radical change, the end of the Communist dictatorship fails to signify a change in the emotional world of the protagonists.

Most recently, Bartis published a twelve-part series of literary essays under the title "A Lázár apokrifek" (2005; "The Apocrypha of Lazarus"), which he had written on a monthly basis for the literary magazine "Élet és Irodalom". These are reflections on everyday life and writing, travel reports and primarily tortured personal memories and experiences, which are laid out as twelve »true stories about God«.

Bartis has received several fellowships for both his photographic and his literary work, including the Móricz-Zsigmond Fellowship for his first novel. He has been awarded the Tibor-Déry Prize and the Márai Prize and lives in Budapest.