István Örkény

István Örkény

  • Hungary

István Örkény was one of the most significant writers of the Hungarian literature in the second half of the 20th century. He wrote novels, plays and most of all is known for his short stories, especially the very short stories genre – “One Minute Stories”.Örkény was born in Budapest in 1912 to a Jewish family. His father was a pharmacist, and Örkény too studied chemistry and then pharmacy. He published his first book, Ocean Dance, in 1941. In 1942, he was sent to the Russian Front. As a Jew, he was placed in a forced-labor unit. There he was captured by the Germans and detained in a labour camp of war prisoners near Moscow, where he wrote the play Voronesh. In 1946, he returned home to Budapest. In 1949 Arkin was appointed as the dramaturge of the Youth Theater and in 1952 in the same role in the Theater of the People’s Army. Since 1954 he has worked as a proofreader in a literary publishing house. In 1952 he published the story “Lila Tinta” (“Purple Ink”) which was strongly criticized by one of the party’s ideologues. In the mid-1950’s he was banned from publishing for political reasons. With the Hungarian revolt in 1956, along with other writers, he sought asylum at the Polish Embassy in Budapest, but their request was denied. He was not allowed to publish until 1960. During those years he was allowed to work for a living as an engineer in a pharmaceutical factory. Örkény renewed the literary genre of the short story and he is regarded as the master of the Middle-European grotesque. He is one of the worldwide well-known Hungarian short story writers and dramatists, his art of writing exerted a significant influence on the contemporary Hungarian literature. He became a successful, well known writer with his short stories and grotesque theatrical plays. His One Minute Stories were published in numerous languages, his plays – The Tóth Family and the Catsplay – were performed on the different stages of the world from Budapest to New York, Damascus and Jakarta. Örkény died from heart failure in 1979. In 2004, the Madách Chamber Theatre in Budapest was renamed the Örkeny Theater in his honor.


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