Mora, Terézia 1971–
Mora, Terézia 1971–
Born 1971, in Sopron, Hungary; immigrated to Berlin, Germany, 1990. Education: Attended Humboldt University and the Berlin Film Academy.
Freelance author and translator, 1998—.
Open Mike Literature Prize, Berlin LiteraturWERKstatt, 1997, for "Durst"; Würth Literature Prize, 1997, for the script "Die Wege des Wassers in Erzincan"; Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, 1999, for Seltsame Materie; Adalbert von Chamisso Promotion Prize, 2000; Jane Scatcherd Translation Prize, 2002; Best German novel of the Year, Leipzig Book Fair, 2004, for Alle Tage.
Die Wege des Wassers in Erzincan (screenplay), 1998.
Seltsame Materie: Erzählungen (short stories; title means "Strange Material: Stories"), Rowohlt (Reinbek bei Hamburg, Germany), 1999.
Am Ende der Stadt (screenplay), SFB, 1999.
(Translator) Péter Esterházy, Die letzte Fenstergiraffe (CD-ROM), 1999, published in book form, Eichborn Berlin, 2004.
Das Alibi (screenplay), ZDF, 2000.
(Translator) Péter Esterházy, Harmonia Caelestis Berlin Verlag, 2001.
(Translator) István Örkény, Minutennovellen, Suhrkamp Verlag, 2002.
Sowas in der Art (play), 2003.
Alle Tage (novel), Luchterhand (Munich, Germany), 2004, published in English as Day In Day Out, translated by Michael Henry Heim, Harper Perennial (New York, NY) 2007.
(Translator) Lajos Parti Nagy, Meines Helden Platz, Luchterhand Literaturverlag, 2005.
Miss June Ruby (radio play), NDR, 2006.
Terézia Mora was born in 1971, in Sopron, Hungary, and was raised in the village of Petohaza on the Austrian border until 1990, when she immigrated to Berlin, Germany. Interested in both writing and theater, she attended both Humboldt University and the Berlin Film Academy, studying theater arts and screenwriting. Following her studies, she began to write in earnest, as well as to work as a book translator, tackling the work of a number of prominent Hungarian novelists, including Péter Esterházy. The author of a number of plays, short stories, and novels, Mora has won several prestigious prizes for her writing, including the Open Mike Literature Prize from the Berlin LiteraturWERKstatt for her short story "Durst,"; the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for Seltsame Materie: Erzählungen in 1999; the Adalbert von Chamisso Promotion Prize in 2000; the Jane Scatcherd Translation Prize in 2002; and the award for Best German Novel of the Year at the Leipzig Book Fair for her first novel, Alle Tage, in 2004.
Mora's Seltsame Materie is a short story collection about people living in Eastern Europe when it was still behind the Iron Curtain; the politics reflected in her tales, though, are applicable to more than just the Cold War period. She addresses questions of freedom, national borders, and interrogations carried out in foreign languages, as well universal themes of growing into adulthood and what it means to experience those first sexual desires. Families are dysfunctional, with suicide and insanity, poverty and hopelessness prevalent. Marianna D. Birnbaum, reviewing the stories for World Literature Today, remarked: "There is nothing here of the rural idyll; the villagers are envious, petty, and brutal. Even their dreams are gray. However, the characters are familiar: they could fit into the fiction from the American Midwest."
Alle Tage, which was published in English as Day In Day Out, is a novel about Abel Nema, an odd, reclusive man living in an unnamed city in Europe, where he had fled from his homeland, a country that apparently has ceased to exist. He leads an unremarkable and somewhat boring existence, despite his achievements in life. He is fluent in ten languages, yet rarely says anything of interest in any of them, and his personality lends itself to periods of unrest and confusion. He is aided briefly by a young man from his own country, but the assistance is brief, leaving him alone again. A lost soul, he somehow manages to get involved with a con man. Gradually, readers learn of Abel's past, much of which appears to have contributed to his wandering nature. With his biblical name and the confusion of languages in his mind, not to mention his peripatetic nature, Abel is almost iconic, despite his lack of purpose. E.J. Van Lanen, writing for Three Percent, acknowledged the attempted scope of the book, but concluded that "Mora has thrown a lot of writing at it, but it falls flat in too many cases to realize its goals." Donna Seaman, in a review for Book Forum, remarked that "some of Abel's wanderings merely bulk up the story, and certain characters are brittle caricatures. Narrative complexity occasionally degrades into confusion. Yet this remains an extraordinarily accomplished first novel. A kaleidoscopic saga of dispossession, metamorphosis, and survival, it possesses shades of Hesse and Kafka, perhaps even a touch of Jerzy Kosinski." Library Journal critic K.H. Cumiskey noted the confusion of Abel's inner mind, but felt that "Mora adroitly conveys his inner thoughts in a beautiful hallucinogenic sequence."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Alle Tage.
Library Journal, July 1, 2007, K.H. Cumiskey, review of Alle Tage, p. 83.
Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2007, review of Alle Tage, p. 36.
World Literature Today, June 22, 2000, Marianna D. Birnbaum, review of Seltsame Materie: Erzählungen, p. 639.
Book Forum,http://www.bookforum.com/ (September 1, 2007), Donna Seaman, "Seeking in Tongues."
Deutsches Haus Web site, http://deutscheshaus.as.nyc.edu/ (April 22, 2008), author profile.
HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (April 22, 2008), author profile.
Litrix Web site,http://www.litrix.de/ (April 22, 2008), Martin Zähringer, review of Alle Tage.
Terézia Mora Home Page, http://www.tereziamora.com (April 22, 2008).
Three Percent, http://rochester.edu/ (September 13, 2007), reviews of Alle Tage and Seltsame Materie.