Bozai, Agota 1965-
BOZAI, Agota 1965-
PERSONAL: Born 1965, in Siafok, Hungary.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Counterpoint Press, 387 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016.
Tranzit glória, Tiszatáj Alapítvány (Szeged, Hungary), 1999.
Err is goettlich, Kremayr & Scheriau (Vienna, Austria), 2001, translation by David Kramer published as To Err Is Divine, Counterpoint (New York, NY), 2004.
Mi az ábra?, Magyar Köyvklub (Budapest, Hungary), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Describing Hungarian writer Agota Bozai's second novel, translated as To Err Is Divine, Philip Landon stated in the Washington Post Book World that Bozai "satirizes the grotesque opportunism of the 1990s, when former lackeys of the communist regime discovered the joys of capitalism." The novel tells of Anna Levay, a middle-aged and somewhat overweight schoolteacher who was widowed as a young woman when her husband was killed in the Hungarian Uprising. She survives on her meager salary by teaching privately in the evenings. Anna is also thrifty: she repairs runs in her stockings with clear nail polish and keeps the heat in her flat set low. The only luxury she allows herself is bath salts. One evening as Anna rises from her bath, a halo appears over her head. This seems an unlikely gift to an atheist, but the halo brings with it special powers, such as healing, the ability to speak in tongues, and the ability to command animals. No one else can see the halo, but dogs follow her, fish leap before her onto the shore, broken bodies heal with her touch, she can transform tap water into wine, and her houseplants quickly become a tropical jungle. The practical Anna is befuddled by her new powers, but they are seen by a town doctor and mayor as a means of reviving the local economy. If they can exploit Anna, the two men will attract tourists and make their own fortunes in the bargain.
Christian Science Monitor critic Ron Charles noted that Anna "has been studying [novelist Franz] Kafka with her students, and readers familiar with The Metamorphosis will find their antennae twitching at the absurdist quality of To Err Is Divine. Bozai understands the comic persistence of our daily routines even under the most extraordinary circumstances." Janet Evans commented in Library Journal that Bozai's references to writers Kafka and Mikhail Bulgakov are indications that "we are entering an Eastern European world of magic realism and political satire." Chicago Tribune contributor Victoria A. Brownworth wrote that in her novel, Bozai "dismantles communism and capitalism with a satirical narrative worthy of Swift." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called To Err Is Divine "a sharp and biting satire of the new face of Eastern Europe."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, Brendan Driscoll, review of To Err Is Divine, p. 1697.
Chicago Tribune, July 1, 2004, Victoria A. Brownworth, review of To Err Is Divine, p. 6.
Christian Science Monitor, July 27, 2004, Ron Charles, review of To Err Is Divine, p. 15.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of To Err Is Divine, p. 343.
Library Journal, May 15, 2004, Janet Evans, review of To Err Is Divine, p. 113.
Publishers Weekly, June 28, 2004, review of To Err Is Divine, p. 33.
Washington Post Book World, August 1, 2004, Philip Landon, review of To Err Is Divine, p. T7.