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Eleni: Hungarian Translation Of Nicholas Gage’s World-Famous Novel Presented In Budapest

By Tamás Székely // 2016.04.14.

After 33 years of groundless waiting Hungarians can finally read American-Greek writer Nicholas Gage’s world-famous novel “Eleni” in their native language. Although the staggering family and history novel was already translated into 32 different languages during the last couple of decades, the Hungarian edition hit the shelves of the bookstores just a few months ago thanks to publishing company Kairosz and the translator Judit Járai. The Hungarian translation was presented to the audience on Wednesday in Budapest at the assembly hall of the Faculty of Law of the Péter Pázmány Catholic University.


In his most famous book, inspired by true events, Nicholas Gage recounts the tragedy of his mother, Eleni Gatzoyiannis, and pieces together the heart-breaking story of his family’s escape from the Greek Civil War. In 1948, in the village of Lia near the Albanian border, his mother was executed by the Communist partisans for trying to rescue her children from the camps behind the Iron Curtain and take them rather to their father who already lived in America. In 1985, Eleni was made into a feature film starring John Malkovich as Nicholas Gage, the author of  the book, who investigates his family’s story thirty years after the tragic events took place.

Nicholas Gage, born as Nikolaos Gatzoyiannis in 1939, emigrated to the United States at the age of 10. He is known not only for his autobiographical memoirs but also for his international career as an investigative reporter for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Gage achieved fame most of all with his books and reports about American mafia and corruption. During the Watergate scandal, he was the first reporter to hear any of the Nixon tapes. Gage is also known as the executive producer and co-writer of legendary movie The Godfather Part III, which was nominated for seven Golden Globe and seven Academy Awards.


At the book presentation event, Eszter Sándorfi, Hungary’s former Ambassador to Athens, said Nicholas Gage’s book is very important for Hungarians because it reveals the true face of the Greek Civil War (1945-1949), which was known in Hungary only from a false Communist-Marxist perspective for a very long time. Jenő Megyesy, chief policy advisor to Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, also praised to book, reminding the audience of US President Ronald Reagan, who admittedly took inspiration from the book for his meetings with Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev. As for the author, he told the Hungarian audience that he had the opportunity once to take physical revenge on Eleni’s torturer, however, he rather decided to write the book to pay tribute to his beloved mother.