László Darvasi

The Flower Eaters - Novel

Original Hungarian title:Virágzabálók, published in 2009 by Magvetö, Budapest
(German title: Blumenfresser)
ca. 673 pages
László Darvasi
Foto: László Darvasi
© Ekko von Schwichow

László Darvasi, born in 1962 in southern Hungary, has worked as a teacher and journalist. He came to prominence as a lyricist and published short works of prose and novellas. Darvasi, who lives in Szeged and Budapest is considered to be one of the greatest talents in Hungarian literature.

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Spanish world rights (Sexto Piso), Netherlands (Wereldbibliotheek), Poland (Jagiellonian UP), Czech Republic (Dauphin), Bulgaria (Paradox)


Of the struggle for freedom in dark times – and of the resistance of poetry

Like in his novel Die Legende von den Tränengauklern (A könnymutatványosok legendája, Jelenkor 1999, German edition by Suhrkamp 2001), in The Flower Eaters László Darvasi constructs an historical backdrop against which to tell an affecting tale of love and desire, violence and war.

The story centres on the dreamy, sensuous Klára, who marries an emotionally distant botanist and satisfies her sexual desires with other men. Bosnian Roma have settled at the edge of the small Hungarian town of Szeged, which provides the setting for the novel. When the 1848 revolution is brutally suppressed, Klára and her small son are thrust into the heart of the unfolding events. Over the course of five sweeping chapters, Darvasi creates a complex universe populated with a cast of characters, all of whom are trying to struggle against the merciless course of world history that is blindly perpetuated by the actions of small-minded people.

The novel caused a major stir in Hungary: Darvasi’s account casts the Hungarian war of independence from Austria in an ambiguous light, exposing the rampant anti-Semitism that still haunts Hungary today, and presenting the Romani people, who have been subject to increasing discrimination in recent years, as ambassadors of a freedom-oriented worldview.


»Darvasi’s novel sucks the reader in with its powerful, vivid language that is at once lyrical and witty, harsh and graceful. These 673 pages provide a window onto a whole world in the way that only great literature can.« Ilma Rakusa

»Darvasi proves once again that he is one of the masters of literary surrealism. The dead rise again, hoary infants incessantly utter the same sentence, tulip fish and other monsters inhabit and threaten the world. A book like a rare, colourful flower – which one cannot gobble up quickly enough.« Jan Ehlert, NDR

»A writer whose project of re-enchanting the everyday world ably counters contemporary demands for superficial realism.« FAZ

Other publications

Wintermorgen/Winter Morning (2016)

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Italy (Il Saggiatore)

Die Hundejäger von Lojang/The Dog Hunters of Lojang (2002)

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Netherlands (Wereldbibliotheek), Romania (Nemira)

Die Legende von den Tränengauklern/The Legend of the Tear Jugglers (1999)

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Italy (Il Saggiatore), Netherlands (Wereldbibliotheek), Czech Republic (Dauphin)