1st May 2008
The San Francisco Chronicle looks at The White King.
“In Hungarian writer György Dragomán’s harrowing novel “The White King,” set in a nameless place understood to be 1980s Romania, we see this distorted industry through the eyes of the 11-year-old narrator, Djata. Djata’s father has been carted off for forced labor for speaking out against the regime. His teachers subjugate instruction to obedience, threatening - and often delivering - violence for the slightest infraction. Coaches, state officials and even army colonels interfere in school sports competitions to ensure victory for the children of high-ranking Party members. Djata’s classmates are sometimes his allies, sometimes informers, and it does not take much for a dumb prank to become “sabotage against the state.” In a series of disparate episodes, the unifying strand is dread, magnified by Dragomán’s style of childlike, breathless run-ons and sentences that seem never to end.”
The full piece is here.