György Dragomán’s debut novel, “The White King” (Houghton Mifflin, 272 pages, $24), could be called the best of all fictional worlds. A memoir of communist oppression, it is also an of-the-moment contribution to world literature, representing the childlike combination of wonder and irony currently in vogue across the globe. Authors as geographically diverse as Haruki Murakami, Jenny Erpenbeck, and César Aira have been using childlike voices to navigate sinister terrain with varying degrees of success. There is always the risk that what should seem horrible will only become precious, a species of fairy tale awkwardly bearing the badge of politics. But unlike most such authors, Mr. Dragomán captures a childhood that feels less like a fairy tale than like a real childhood — perhaps because he actually lived it.

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