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Siege 13

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  276 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Winner of the 2012 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and finalist for the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award for English-Language Fiction

In December of 1944, the Red Army entered Budapest to begin one of the bloodiest sieges of the Second World War. By February, the siege was over, but its effects were to be felt for decades afterward.

Siege 13 is a collection of thir
Paperback, 339 pages
Published September 15th 2012 by Thomas Allen Publishers
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ivan by: Gorgona Grim
Despite 5 stars this isn't generally a type of book for re-read and few years back it was just a book, albeit a great one but lately as I dug through old memories I found parallels with my own experience of city in siege and how it affected my family, especially my father. Now it's more than a week since my father died and memories become even more vivid re-read seemed like natural option and I prefer to dig through the wounds while they are fresh than to reopen once they healed. It's a subtle b ...more
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tamas Dobozy has this unsettling way of articulating exactly what I'm thinking -- usually some half-formed thought about my own personal hangups or idiosyncrasies -- and he does it way too well to be unintentional. Not that I think he's writing directly for me -- rather that I think he is tapping into a zeitgeist, specifically a Canadian one, that few authors hit quite so subtly, quite so bravely.

After all, these stories are about sieges.

Physical ones; none more prevalent than the siege of Budap
Steven Langdon
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: super
"Siege 13" has been awarded the 2012 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in Canada, underlining just how excellent this book of short stories is. Built around one of the many horrific events of World War Two -- the longterm blockade and starvation of Budapest as the Soviet Army drove westward -- this is not just a book about the viciousness of war, it is also a probing of how one harrowing experience can shape a country and its people throughout the years as the impact of a period of grim agony ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-faves
The short story craft at its best. These interconnected stories explore the horrors of the fall of Budapest to the Red Army during WWII and the impacts of the resulting Hungarian diaspora on subsequent generations, a topic I am embarrassed to say I knew little about until this book. Dobozy presents this dark subject with great beauty through multiple character perspectives on the impossible choices humans must make in war times and the stories they tell themselves to survive. "The Beautician," t ...more
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-star
This has a lot of emotional weight – all the stories were very textbook short story, in that they created a tiny, encapsulated emotional world and many of them ended in an epiphany. But – and there's always a but with me – I felt that first, there was too much similarity of theme and second, and more important, that there was a certain lack of compassion for his characters.

He creates sad people – people who know they're sad; people who don't and find out over the course of the story; people who
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
An amazing collection of dysfunctional weirdness. What recurs throughout these harrowing stories are the ways in which people everywhere are subjected to terrible actions and, if they survive, struggle to find a way to forget, remember, and/or integrate the things they've experienced, seen done to others, or done themselves. How they've been forced to make decisions none of us should have to make.

It's a brutally honest collection about the ways we create a narrative that will sustain us - whethe
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Siege 13, by Tamas Dobozy, is a highly intelligent and carefully crafted collection of stories about the elusive nature of truth as it applies to human experience. The final paragraph of “Days of Orphans and Strangers” is about as close to a perfect ending as you’ll find in a story. This is a very fine collection.
Thing Two
This collection of thirteen stories revolve around the siege of Hungary at the end of WW2. Some deal with childhood recollections, some with dealing with the trauma in relatives, and some with the actual events as they were happening. It's not light topic, but the writing is excellent. ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those wanting to know more about the Hungarian experience.
Recommended to Skjam! by: Milkweed Editions
During World War Two, Hungary was one of the Axis powers, with its own fascists led by the Arrow Cross Party. At first this seemed like a good idea, as Hungary gained back territories it had lost after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But late in the war, it became obvious that they were on the losing side. The Hungarian government tried to broker a separate armistice with the Soviet Union, only to have their country occupied by the Germans. As a result, they were forced to fight to t ...more
Cole Whetstone
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unity: Atrocities are atrocious because they take on lives of their own, and affect whole generations — not just individuals. In this way, the Siege of Budapest and the following Soviet occupation affected the lives of every one of Dobozy’s character, and indeed, the lives of most Hungarians. The only meaning left to those who suffered was the meaning inherent in suffering itself.

3 Prompts:
1. How did the Siege of Budapest affect 2nd generation Hungarian immigrants? The siege brought on a persis
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
13 well-written stories woven through with the themes and fallout of the siege of Budapest, detailing the victims, opportunists, and villains. It's a brutal read at times, hilarious at others, and often veers into thoughtful and sorrowful modes. I loved all the stories, started catching the connections towards the end, and thought I'd definitely like to read this again sometime just to follow the allusions better.

It's a fine collection of rich short fiction that swirls around an overlooked histo
Eric Leeson
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Treading on the border between fantasy and reality some of these stories are hard to believe. The scars, both visible and buried beneath the skin are life long, the march of the Red Army after World War II left behind it an important legacy that is fading into oblivion as the victims have mainly kept silent of their experiences. A very good novel, reads like a collection of short stories that are interrelated.
Kate McDougall Sackler
Beautiful writing that transports you into the story is the highlight of this collection of tales of the 1944 Budapest siege. Bogged down in the middle by a bit too much Rape, death, and the downtrodden, it picks up with an uplifting story by the end. These are stories about war, the fallout of war, and how war affects everything and everyone it touches, even through multiple generations. Points off for the weird cover art.
Number reading challenge: 13
Jun 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cannot-finish
no dice. cannot read this
Steven Buechler
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Books that deal with identity always make for powerful literature. Dobozy's collection of short stories show how a group of people went from the conflict of Budapest at the end of the Second World War,the occupation by the Red Army, up to immigranting to a new land, and - in some cases - the problems faced by their offspring. A well-written and well thoughtout read.

Page 66 - "The Restoration of the Villa"
It was the end of December 1944, and that night, running from the makeshift encampment and
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is really well written but just to difficult (for me) to engage with it. All the stories are intertwined and centred around the awful awful siege of the city of Budapest. It's evident from this book that every Hungarian alive at that time in History must have been affected in a devastating way. Themes of survival, (and the accompanying survival guilt,) betrayal, revenge, cowardice, identity, despair, and a very dark humour are woven throughout. I don't need a book to "feel good" necess ...more
Ted Parkinson
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is very well written with the stories intertwined thematically (others have already summarized that it is about, so I won't bother). Some characters appear in more than one story. I knew nothing about the siege of Budapest prior to reading this book and now I understand its sheer brutality. I did not like all the stories. I think some are a bit too abstract and, for example, Sailor's Mouth has a nice idea but the story itself is weak. I think The Beautician is an absolutely perfect sto ...more
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I was unable to read all 13 stories due to time constraints, plus I don’t think I’m cut out for short stories, though I was able to get the flavour of the book. It is very well written but I wanted the characters to be more fully fleshed out as they might have been in a full-length novel, and I found myself skimming for plot points instead. At that point I realized it was time to put the book down.

However, the story that will stay with me forever was “The Animals of the Budapest Zoo.” War storie
Rebecca Schwarz
Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
Although I didn't make it all the way through this collection, these are good stories and I'll definitely read more by this author. Just not right now. While I love reading about other experiences and cultures, this book reveals the problem with collections by single authors. After reading about half of it, I just can't maintain my interest in the Hungarian expatriate experience no matter how lovely each individual story might be. It's due back at the library, so I'll take a break and check it o ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This grouping of 13 short stories, thematically linked to one another, includes how WWII affected its generation and then their children, even in other countries. Dobozy traverses a wide range exceptionally well. There is the brilliant "The Restoration of the Villa Where Tibor Kalman Once Lived", and the surprisingly dark, dark humour of "The Selected Mug Shots of Famous Hungarian Assassins". As an ensemble, the stories portray the intergenerational nightmare consequences of war, any war, with b ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved this haunting collection of short stories of the events of the Budapest Siege of 1944 and how it shaped the lives of this eclectic, damaged group of people. I was particularly moved by it as I read the collection during a stay in Budapest and while reading of their history in the absolutely chilling Terror Museum. This collection made me think hard about how I would react in those circumstances.

I particularly enjoyed The Beautician, The Animals of the Budapest Zoo and The Ghosts of Budap
Lee Thompson
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A well-crafted, ambitious collection, easily among my favourite story collections read in the past five years (which is certainly due to the strong eastern European influence in Dobozy's fiction). Lots of intelligence at work here and just enough sense of play to keep me satisfied. Dobozy crafts his stories, considers every line and plot point carefully, so there may lack a touch of spontaneity (for those of us who love that) but it's all so well done that I can forgive that. Much recommended. ...more
Robert Campbell
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Siege 13, a collection of 13 short stories inspired by the ways the siege of Budapest by the Russians in December 1944 impacted the lives of the Hungarian people, won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in 2012. Part personal essay, part exploration of collective memory and identity maintenance, and part alternate world construction, these stories are above all else case studies of "the passing of trauma from one generation to the next" (p. 183). ...more
Doriana Bisegna
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
One thing is for sure: Tamas Dobozy can write! These amazing short stories are brilliant! I have no idea how he was able to write of so many different characters with so many different scenarios. It opened my eyes to the plight of the Hungarians after WWII and how their lives were affected even when they decided to immigrate. Very powerful collection and a voice I plan to read more of in the future. Oh and he's Canadian...just thought I'd throw that in there... ...more
Daniel Kukwa
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
As a Polish Canadian, I know the power that comes from the memory of war & Soviet oppression...which is why much of this book spoke so well to a part of my psyche. However, there were occasional stories that didn't make me feel much of anything, other than appreciation. I put it down to a matter of personal taste, but I wish this collection had more stories like its closing tale, involving dreams of a mythical doomsday weapon. I want that one in particular dramatized one day.

Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
These are stories that all deal in some way with being haunted by the events of the Siege of Budapest at the end of WWII, and the Soviet occupation that followed. They are beautifully written with complexity and intelligence; i found myself thinking through elements of one story or another during my day. Warning though: they have a deep melancholy that seeps into your bones while reading.
World Literature Today
"The rhythm of the series, here and elsewhere one of Dobozy’s most effective stylistic devices, is not only compelling but encapsulates the structure of the story as a whole." - Robert Murray Davis, University of Oklahoma

This book was reviewed in the May 2013 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our site:
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
A painful but powerful read. Painful because of the subject matter. I had little idea of the 19th Century history of Hungary despite knowing several Hungarians. Those that lived through the horror, like many of the generation of the time, have learned to suffer in silence. Powerful because of the mastery of the writing. This is a book I want to reread. And reread. Lyrical, creative, stunning.
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tamas Dobozy’s characters are memorable. His writing is so colourful, amassed with literary nuances, and the vivid historical account and unparalleled stories continue to live in our minds long after the book takes a spot on some dusty bookshelf.

Full review at:

Dan Lalande
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it

13 stories dealing with the emotional aftermath of the 1944 siege of Budapest. With the dry, ugly surrealism of Kosinki, Dobozy recounts the strange, desperate adventures suffered by the calamity's survivors and doggedly insists that they are darkly comic Emperors with no clothes, their decades-deep scars fresh and visible.
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Tamas Dobozy was born in Nanaimo, BC. After receiving his Ph.D. in English from the University of British Columbia, he taught at Memorial University. His work has been published in journals throughout North America, and in 1995 he won the annual subTerrain short fiction contest. When X Equals Marylou, his first collection of short fiction, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award. Tamas Dobozy n ...more

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