The Summer My Father Died

Apám halálának nyara,  Noran,  Budapest 2006. 
Léto, kdy otec zemrel,  Czech translation by Anna Valentová, Dybbuk, Praha, 2010.
The Summer My Father Died,  English translation by George Szirtes, Telegram, London, 2012.
L’été où mon père est mort. French translation by Clara Royer, Editions de l’Antilope, Paris, 2023.

The book relates the destiny of two Hungarian families in the context of the major events of 20th century Hungarian history. The father comes from a well-to-do Jewish family, almost completely annihilated during the war. The mother comes from a family of landless servants from one of the poorest regions of the country. The father denies his Jewish roots, the mother is not aware of them. After the Second World War they rebuild their lives and, committed Communists, bring up their daughters according to this ideology. Structured around the death of the father, the book also relates the narrator’s slow awakening process, through which she discovers her Jewish origins and realizes the shortcomings of the Communist ideology, giving an insight to the experience of a generation that grew up in the decades of Hungary’s “Goulash Communism”. 

Reviews and reactions

“Rarely has a story devoted to what life and thought were like in an ancient popular democracy achieved such formal success. …YK constructs an endearing, heartbreaking, lucid and ironic kaleidoscope…This book is so fine and so hard…magnificent in its painful, but ultimately soothed sensitivity…”
Antoine Perraud, La Croix, 31/05/2023.

“This remarkable story of political and identity blindness is coupled with the intimate story of a youth behind a crumbling iron curtain. Yudit Kiss fiercely defends her faith in a free world, rid of its deadly ideologies.”
Ariane Singer, Le Monde, 07/13/2023. 

 “a moving and true story... extremely endearing... one of the major contributions of this year's literary production. “
Albert Bensoussan, Unidivers Mag, 3 juillet 2023.

“It's been a long time since I read such a profound book, of such a rare humanity.”
Henri Raczymow, Regards, N° 1096 , 15/06/2023. 

 “We know too little in the West of what it meant to grow up under a mid-20th century Communism which promised a world far better than what had come before. In this remarkable memoir, the Hungarian-Swiss economist, Yudit Kiss uncovers the paternal history that shaped her own, even while she was unaware of it. The journey is riveting.”
Lisa Appignanesi, author of Losing the Dead and All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion

"A moving and insightful memoir..."
Elaine Feinstein, Times Literary Supplement, 15. 02. 2013. 

“One of the three most remarkable books of the year.” (2010)
Ivan Klíma, author of Love and Garbage and My mad century

“It’s an essay-like book full of quotes that suddenly dives into the deep layers of soul then smoothly surfaces with irony; it has a playful sense of time like the masters of magic realism.”
Ema Stašová, Novinky, 26 November 2010. 

“This book must be read!”
Georg Klein, author of Piéta and The Atheist and the Holy City

"...telling this family history, in its center with the figure of the father, the professor, a determined communist to his last breath, and his daughter, whose gradual awakening is also related; presenting the "Communist version" of the Jewish destiny, YK tells an untold story, which, even though it has not been discussed, hovers above our everydays. "
Kardos András, Élet és irodalom,  No. 47. november 23, 2007.

“It shook me profoundly (…) not only the upsetting richness of the relationship between father and daughter, but the internal development of the narrator also had a deep impact on me.”
István Szabó, author of Mephisto and The taste of sunshine

Read more reviews and reactions

In 2013 The Summer My Father Died was recommended reading in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize list of the British Booktrust.

The Summer My Father Died was finalist for the 2014 JQ-Wingate Prize.


Some pages in French here and here. In German, here.