Ottilie Mulzet at Literary Hub:
The tiny village of Túrricse, where Szilárd Borbély lived for the first nine years of his life, stands on Hungary’s great plain, the Alföld, the flat expanse stretching from the eastern bank of the Danube out to the distant Carpathians. On current maps, Túrricse lies at the very edge of the nation’s political borders, with Ukraine and Romania literally within walking range. Not only is the village’s distance from Budapest striking, but even as far as regional towns are concerned, Túrricse is closer to Romania’s Satu Mare and Ukraine’s Mukachevo than any larger settlement on the Hungarian side.
At one time the village was less geographically marginal. During the centuries of Habsburg rule, up until the Treaty of Trianon was signed in 1920, the Kingdom of Hungary reached much farther: Satu Mare was still officially Szatmár, Mukachevo was still Munkács, and the population’s ethnic, or, to be more accurate, ethno-religious, mixture was far more fluid. One influence emanating from both Ukraine and Romania was the presence of the Greek Catholic Church in the region, a religious orientation somewhat rare among Hungarian-speaking populations both inside and outside the current borders. Even more notably, the immediate vicinity had once contained several strong Jewish communities, including the Hungarian-speaking Orthodox lineage of the Satmar (Szatmár) Hasidim. Yet this has always been an impoverished land. Its soil is meager, the regular floods from the Tisza River and its many tributaries are always a threat, and there are few links to the world outside.