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György Dragoman

  • Original Title: MAGLYA
  • Publication date: December 2014
  • Publisher: Magvető
  • Country: HU
  • 444 print pages
  • Drama


  • Epoch: Historical
  • Time Period: 20th century
  • Location setting: Romania
  • Themes: FAMILY, Intergenerational, Family secrets, Mourning, PEOPLE facing life, Death, Resilience, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Violence, Totalitarian regime, CHARACTERS, Strong Female Character, Filiation, Coming of age, Life change, Looking back on one's life, Search for the truth, Moral dilemma, Facing failure, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Manipulation, Injustice, Rivalry, Obscurantism, Fanaticism, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Commitment, Intolerance, An elderly character


Emma, 13, has grown up in an Eastern European dictatorship. When her parents died, she went to an orphanage. But after five months there, an older woman appears and claims to be her grandmother. She takes Emma away and gives her a home, but she’s an odd character and Emma isn’t sure she can trust anyone in her new life.


Finalist for the French Prix du meilleur livre étranger
Finalist of the Italian Premio von Rezzori
Longlisted for the French Prix Femina

Translation rights sold: US, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania, Macedonia, Slovakia

This has been translated into English by Ottilie Mulzet, joint winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize for her work on Laszlo Krasznahorkai.

György Dragoman works as a literary translator into Hungarian, and has published several novels, notably THE WHITE KING (2005), which was sold in more than 20 languages.


A chilling and suspenseful novel set in the wake of a violent revolution about a young girl rescued from an orphanage by an otherworldly grandmother she’s never met.

Thirteen-year-old Emma grows up under an Eastern European dictatorship where oppression seems eternal. When her dissident parents die in a car accident, she’s taken to an orphanage, only to be adopted soon after by a grandmother she has never met.

While her homeland is shattered by a violent revolution, Emma - like a witch's apprentice ( comes to learn the ways of her new grandmother, who can tell fortunes from coffee dregs, cause and heal pain at will, and shares her home with the ghost of her husband. But this is not the main reason her grandmother is treated with suspicion and contempt by most people in town. They suspect her or her husband of having been involved in the disappearance of top secret government files.

As Emma learns her family history, she begins to see that, for her grandparents, the alternate reality shaped by magic was their only form of freedom. THE BONE FIRE is a political Gothic, carried along by the menace and promise of a fairy tale.

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