The Cir­cum­ci­sion

Gyor­gy Dalos; Judith Sal­losy, trans.
  • Review
By – March 30, 2012

Twelve-year-old Robi Singer has not yet been cir­cum­cised — not an uncom­mon state of affairs in mid-1950’s Hun­gary, but now, with his bar mitz­vah approach­ing, the pres­sure is on. A self-pro­claimed Hun­gar­i­an Com­mu­nist Jew-for-Christ, Robi lives dur­ing the week in a spare, chron­i­cal­ly under­heat­ed Jew­ish school locat­ed with­in a state orphan­age. On Fri­days he returns home to the shab­by two-room apart­ment that he shares with his eccen­tric, com­mu­nist grand­moth­er and his ago­ra­pho­bic, hyper-hypochon­dri­a­cal moth­er — sev­en­teen ill­ness­es at last count — whom he accom­pa­nies to The Broth­er­hood of Jews for Christ on Sun­day mornings. 

Day after day, Moth­er and Uncle Moric con­duct their secret love affair in the bed­room of the small apart­ment while at her job at the Ker­chief Dyers’ Coop­er­a­tive, Grand­moth­er schemes to make ends meet. Robi him­self has start­ed writ­ing love poems for a four­teen-year-old cousin. And always, the cir­cum­ci­sion lurks in the back­ground. Plain­ly, with affec­tion and gen­tle irony, author Gyor­gy Dalos paints a warm com­ic pic­ture of Jew­ish life in Budapest dur­ing the Stal­in­ist regime of Matyas Rakosi. 

Gyor­gy Dalos was born in Budapest in 1943 and now lives in Ger­many. In 1968 he was arrest­ed for activ­i­ties against the state” and banned from pub­li­ca­tion for the next nine­teen years. Hun­gar­i­an-born trans­la­tor, Judith Sol­losy, lives in New York.

Judith Felsen­feld book of short fic­tion, Blaustein’s Kiss, was pub­lished in April, 2014. Her sto­ries have appeared in numer­ous mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary reviews, includ­ing The Chica­go Review, The South­west Review, Blue Mesa, and broad­cast nation­wide on NPR’s Select­ed Shorts.

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