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Saying good-bye to George Jonas

 

27 January 2016

 

Canadian poet, best-selling author, journalist, playwright, motorcycle enthusiast, and 1956 Hungarian refugee to Canada, George Jonas, died at age 80 in Toronto on January 10th 2016. Whether you agreed with his views on a range of subjects or not, Jonas’s passing arouses a strong sense of nostalgia in those of us who think back fondly to the group of mostly young intellectuals and artists from Hungary who found a haven in Canada after WWII and especially after the failed uprising of 1956. ...

 

 

...OBITUARY

George Jonas: Author’s book inspired the film Munich

 

JUDY STOFFMAN
Published in The Globe and Mail on Sunday, January 10, 2016

 

 

George Jonas

An undated handout photo of George Jonas.

He was a gifted poet, fearless newspaper columnist, novelist, non-fiction author and playwright, crossing literary borders with apparent ease.

 

Having fled his native Budapest at the age of 21 after the 1956 Hungarian uprising was brutally suppressed by the Soviets, George Jonas made a mark on the cultural and intellectual life of his new country through his 16 books and 34 years as an award-winning producer for CBC radio and television. Read more...

 

 

 

 

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In conversation with...

 

Talking about Flight and Freedom – Stories of Escape to Canada – Ratna Omidvar and Dana Wagner

 

January 19th 2016

 

Kevin Burns

 

 

This book about refugee resettlement in Canada appeared in 2015, as the Syrian refugee crisis was fast becoming the foremost news story across the world and while the what-to-do-with-the-niqab fallout still lingered in Canadian headlines.

 

Book CoverInstead of presenting a theoretical case for more humanitarian policies, Omidvar and Wagner let refugees tell their own stories. The book that they have produced is a series of compelling word-portraits. To read it is to meet 30 Canadians tell you about their mostly perilous - and always courageous – “flight” to a place of freedom: Canada. You also meet them through their photographic portrait.

 

 

To read more and listen to the audio conversation click here.

 

 

 

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Remembering Robert Zend

 

December 27th 2014

 

Kevin Burns

 

 

Robert ZendThere is a voluminous and generous website dedicated to the hard-to-categorize Hungarian-Canadian creative force that was Robert Zend (1925-1985). Zend is one of the many thousands of Hungarian-born refugees who fled that country in 1956 and eventually made Canada his new – and permanent – home.

 

Although Robert Zend became well known as a Canadian poet, novelist, and a visual artist, he was also one of Canada’s foremost producers of radio. Bernie Lucht is the recently retired Executive producer of CBC Radio’s highly acclaimed documentary series, Ideas. “I came to Ideas in the fall of 1971 as a production assistant,” explains Lucht. “Zend was there as a producer. He was an extremely talented radio producer, imaginative and inventive. He also had a great sense of the absurd, which was reflected in his radio work and his poetry.”

 

It’s very typical for people working in radio to pick up their craft by learning from their more experienced colleagues in a form of informal apprenticeship. Robert Zend played a role something close that for the young Bernie Lucht. “Zend became a sort of mentor to me, over a period of about two years. We talked a lot about work and life, and spent many afternoons drinking coffees and eating pastries at the Coffee Mill in Yorkville. I tried to imitate his production style, not very successfully.” Read more...

 

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Translating Canada in Central Europe

 

May 26th 2013

 

Book Review - Ágnes Vashegyi MacDonald, PhD, Columbia College Vancouver

 

BookcoverCanada in Eight Tongues. Translating Canada in Central Europe/Le Canada en huit langues. Traduire le Canada en Europe central, edited by Katalin Kürtösi of the University of Szeged, is a collective effort of eight Central European nations’ scholars. The volume contains 25 articles regarding the dissemination and reception of Canadian literature in translation in Central Europe. Scholars from Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria, specializing in Canadian Studies, shed light on Canada’s literary and cultural output, as Kürtösi explains, in order for a “wider readership to obtain information about the presence of the Canadian imagination and knowledge and writing about that country in the Central European region” (9). Canada’s official languages, English and French, unite eight languages of Central Europe. A loose historico-political periodization exposes readers to the Canadian poetry, prose, theatre, film, music, women authors, anthologies, theory, and criticism that have become part of the translated canon. Read more...

 

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Still looking for the other half
Tamas Dobozy on his literary life after Siege 13

 

May 6, 2013

 

Kevin Burns

 

Tamas Dobozy is fascinated by four key moments in Hungarian history because of the way he thinks they continue to inform the present. He says they are four powerful elements of a history that is still very much alive today and that when he writes he is in a dialogue with that history. Dobozy’s historical “quartet” begins in 1920 and the Treaty of Trianon’s imposition of rigid restrictions on the former Austro-Hungarian empire that also re-drew Hungary’s borders. Next, it’s the Red Army’s “bloody Siege” of 1944 and the subject of Siege 13, for which he was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award and for which he also received the 2013 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Then it’s the 1956 Revolution and, finally, the fall of the Berlin wall and the resulting withdrawal of Soviet Armies from Eastern and Central Europe. “

 

Read more...

 

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Gender and Modernity in Central Europe - Agatha Schwartz's new publication

 

October 19th 2010


Kevin Burns

 

Unfinished BusinessGender and Modernity in Central Europe: The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and its Legacy, published this year by the University of Ottawa Press, is a collection of essays edited by University of Ottawa professor Agatha Schwartz. In 2008, she, together with Judith Szapor from McGill University, organized an academic conference with the same title that brought together specialists from different areas of study and from universities in Europe, North America, India and Israel. Schwartz was confident that as these scholars shared their insights clear links would emerge between fin-de-siècle Central Europe and contemporary Canada. “There are actually some important lessons that we can learn from Central European Studies that we can also apply in Canada,” she explains. Read more...

 

 

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Heroes Don’t Cry, Judit Kopacsi-Gelberger’s new book

 

October 18th 2010

 

Kevin Burns

 

Heroes Don't Cry Book CoverSome books write themselves while others require a little more intervention. In 1992, Judith Kopácsi-Gelberger published a short book about her Hungarian childhood in which she captured the details of her tumultuous family life. Her father was Sándor Kopácsi, the Police Chief of Budapest in the years running up to and including the Revolution. “I strictly focused on my experiences as a child,” says the author who “wrote it as it happened and how I lived it.”


In that turbulent and violent period Kopácsi-Gelberger’s father took a decision that put his life at risk. He refused to intervene when a group of university students started demonstrating in the streets. As Police Chief he was expected to intervene, and to do so harshly. But the students were unarmed. His decision not to shoot into a defenceless crowd resulted in his arrest by the Soviet army and his threatened execution. “It was a great emotional challenge to portray those events, as they were still too raw in my heart and my mind,” says Kopácsi-Gelberger. Read more...

 

 

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Edna Stabler Award for new non-fiction work on Hungarian immigrant

 

October 18th 2010

 

Author John Leigh Walters of Kitchener, Ontario, has been awarded the 2010 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction for his debut work, A Very Capable Life: The Autobiography of Zarah Petri (Athabasca University Press). The book is about Walters’ mother, a Hungarian immigrant to Canada. Administered by Wilfrid Laurier University, the $10,000 award recognizes Canadian writers of a first or second work of creative non-fiction that includes a Canadian locale and/or significance. The award will be handed out during a reception at Wilfrid Laurier University on Nov. 10.

 

For more information about the author and the book , see the CBC arts website.

 

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Family history: Lee Ann Smith’s new book

 

October 12th 2010

 

Grainger Chronicles Book CoverLee Ann Eckhardt Smith is an award-winning writer of short fiction, as well as non-fiction books and articles. She presents the story of four generations of her mother’s family in Strength Within: The Granger Chronicles. The Gerencsér family arrived in North America in 1905 from Kispécz, Hungary, answering the siren call of “American fever.” Thirty years later, the anglicized Grangers fled depression-torn Buffalo, New York for St. Catharines, Ontario. Read more...

 

 

 

 

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Hungarian Scholar Visits British Columbia

 

August 24th 2010

 

John Miska

 

Dr. Gertrud SzamosiDr. Gertrud Szamosi, professor of English Literature and Culture at the University of Pécs, visited British Columbia in early August 2010 to study the work of Hungarian-Canadian novelists writing in English in the province. Dr. Szamosi informed us that she is planning to extend her interests to include Hungarian-Canadian memoirs and further sources of Hungarian-Canadian literature in both English and French, in addition to the fields of English Literature and Culture, Post-colonial and Post-modern fiction, and, more recently, Canadian Studies, which she has explored during her distinguished career. Read more...

 

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Professor Marlene Kadar's latest book

 

Prof's new book re-examines the forces at play in interpreting photographs

 

From YFile, York University's daily faculty online news archive for January 12th 2010: http://www.yorku.ca/yfile/archive/index.asp?Article=13976


A picture may tell a thousand words, but what if the image is distorted or the meaning misconstrued? The newly published Photographs, Histories, and Meanings, co-edited by York Professor Marlene Kadar, re-examines photographs and their social history, exploring the ideological, ethical, political and esthetic forces that influence their interpretation. Read more...

 

 

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Anna Porter on Eastern Europe at St Thomas’s Church, Toronto February 10th 2010

 

On February 10th 2010 at 8 pm Anna Porter is giving this year’s Gene Stewart Lecture (“Repairing the World”) at St Thomas’s Anglican Church in Toronto. She is talking about Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall. The previous two lecturers have been General Romeo Dallaire and Dr Roberta Bondar. Anna’s new book tentatively titled “The Ghosts of Europe” will be published later this year.

 

For more information view the poster.

 

February 3rd 2010

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