Named One of The Wall Street Journal’s Ten Best Fiction Books of 2015
Epic Praise for Captivity:
“Captivity is a complex and fast-paced tale of Jewish life in the early first century, a sort of sword-and-sandals saga as reimagined by Henry Roth. The narrative follows Uri from Rome to Jerusalem and back, from prospectless dreamer to political operative to pogrom survivor—who along the way also happens to dine with Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate and get thrown into a cell with a certain Galilean rabble-rouser. Hungarian György Spiró’s deft combination of philosophical inquiry and page-turning brio should overcome that oft-mentioned American timidity toward books in translation.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal, Ten Best Fiction Books of 2015
“Ben Hur, but bigger and better. Hungarian writer György Spiró’s newly translated novel Captivity powerfully sets the perils of modern Jewry in Early Christian Rome.… Captivity draws you in with its pageant of the classical world, but by the end it also turns out to be a profound meditation on what Judaism meant, and means.”
—Adam Kirsch, Tablet
"With the novel Captivity, Spiró proves that he is well-versed in both historical and human knowledge. It appears that in our times, it is playfulness that is expected of literary works, rather than the portrayal of realistic questions and conflicts. As if the two, playfulness and seriousness, were inconsistent with each other! On the contrary (at least for me), playfulness begins with seriousness. Literature is a serious game. So is Spiró’s novel."
—Imre Kertész, Nobel Prize–winning author of Fatelessness
“This remarkable novel, recently translated from the Hungarian, is as close as we are likely to get to a real feel for how it was to live in the first century CE.… A faithful, fantastically informed, and extravagantly detailed picture of one of the most turbulent and consequential moments in human history.”
—Rabbi David Wolpe, Los Angeles Review of Books
Born in 1946 in Budapest, award-winning dramatist, novelist, and translator György Spiró has earned a reputation as one of postwar Hungary’s most prominent and prolific literary figures. He is the author of four novels and more than forty plays, and his works have received over thirty awards and prizes.
Tim Wilkinson gave up his job in the pharmaceutical industry to translate Hungarian literature and history. He is the primary translator of Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertész. Wilkinson’s translation of Kertész’s Fatelessness won the PEN Club/Book of the Month Translation Prize in 2005.