The historical novel God’s Zoo is now available in English
Title: God’s Zoo
Author: Pablo Urbanyi
Published by: Guernica Editions
Translated from Spanish by Natalia Hero
Author and long-time resident of Ottawa, Pablo Urbanyi's best-selling Spanish novel God’s Zoo has been released in English.
God’s Zoo captures the brutality of the Second World War in Eastern Europe, told through the eyes of young Fenix, a boy who lives in the small Hungarian-Czechoslovak city of Ipolyság. Fenix lives in a loveless world, abused by his cold, materialistic mother, and neglected by his often absent father. He seeks refuge in the care of Judit, a young woman who works as a nanny and servant in the family home. Judit and Fenix form a deep and complex bond that is at once familial and erotic, embodying friendship, kinship, motherhood, romantic love, and sexuality. Together, they bear witness to the city’s successive occupation first by troops from Hungary, followed by the German army, and, finally, the Russians. As the devastating events of the war unfold around them, their love perseveres and grows stronger—until its unexpected end.
“The challenge, taken up here with fervent nostalgia, is to blend a satirical, ironic tone with a childish depiction of events, an irony that confronts the figures of oppression, whether Communist or Nazi, and the adult world. The result is a lucid phantasmagoria: onboard his electric train, Fenix recounts the tragedies that, one after another, carry away his loved ones. Like many writers, recounting the events of his life allows him to shed its cruelties . . . As Baudelaire once wrote: “Genius is childhood rediscovered by an act of will,” says Juliette Einhorn from Magazine Littéraire.
Born in Hungary in 1939, Pablo Urbanyi emigrated to Argentina, where he grew up, was educated, and published his first two books, a collection of short stories and a novel. From 1975 to 1977, the year he emigrated to Canada, he worked as an editor for the cultural supplement of the newspaper "La Opinión" in Buenos Aires.
In Canada he continued writing, publishing Sunset, Silver (finalist for the Argentine Planeta award) and El zoológico de Dios, all translated into Hungarian, French and English. His writing is characterized by critical humour, and a subtle and profound irony. In addition to being a Planeta finalist, he has received other awards and mentions: he was the winner of the 2004 Somos la Expresión Literaria Award, Latin American Achievement Awards, Toronto. Moreover, his native city, Ipolyság, Hungary, named him Honorary Citizen for his literary achievements. Urbanyi has given lectures, seminars, and readings in Germany, Spain, and France, and published five more books. He is also a member of PEN International.