Wednesday, 4 February 2009

I should say something about my book...

published in the spring of 2008. In fact, this blog came to life at the insistence of friends that I should continue with a"sequel". This blog is obviously not that. But it is writing and as so many have discovered, it is its own reward. And , foremost, it is learning about myself and the world around me.
About my book.
"Without Illusions" is written in two languages, Hungarian and English, which in a way aptly illustrates my life. Born in Hungary and leaving at the age of 18, my life early on separated into two halves. The early years in the relative safety and warmth of my family and then my life without it. I left the country on my own.
The generosity of the free West, following the tragic defeat of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight, in my case, provided for a few months in various refugee camps and a free passage to Canada in 1957. Some other refugees were less fortunate and some fared much better.
So my time after leaving my birthplace started a new, strange, exciting and at times frustrating phase. On the negative side obvious was the lack of English or French language, which in Canada mattered. But I was young and healthy and sure of myself in terms of the future, in spite of the fact that not only I could not speak or write in either language, I didn't have any skill or profession.
An honest assessment of my situation after disembarking from the boat in Quebec city is the only praise I will allow myself for that time. Although it may seem simplistic and self-evident now, it was then a sudden, but sober realization that in order to eke out an existence in the new world I will have to rely on my two hands and not much else for the foreseeable future. So,I have started out in the "second" phase of my life, as it were, "without illusions".
Why should an East European refugee have had any illusions on arrival in Canada, in 1957? Because he escaped from a brutal, communist dictatorship to one of the freest, richest and most promising of Western democracies on the planet!
And here is my message, dear reader in 2009, wherever you are: not for one minute I imagined that over and above the free boat ticket and the "Landed Immigrant" visa, for which I am ever so grateful, have I expected anything more from the Canadian government or society! I have never felt that I was a victim, that anyone owed me anything. Like millions of immigrants to the new world before me, we were grateful for the opportunity.Oh, please do not misunderstand, I would have been happy to receive a free furnished room or flat, a monthly stipend until I learn English or French and then a good job. But, as I said, I had none and not dreamt of any illusions about my future life in Canada then.
The miserable days in the fifties that led to our revolt had toughened and readied us for life.
This adventure, that started in the fifties and culminated in the immigrant's first years in Canada, is what my book is about. The reason I wrote it in two languages was letting the descendants of the thousands of Hungarian refugees to Canada and the USA know the struggle their parents and grandparents faced some fifty years ago. Many never learned to speak Hungarian.
Although published in Budapest, the book is available in a couple of Hungarian bookstores in Toronto.