About the book
Set in post-war Communist Hungary, in the fictional town of Békes, Never, Again is the story of seven-year-old Tomi Wolfstein, the son of Holocaust survivors who have never told him anything about their past experiences in the concentration camps. The story opens in the fall of 1956, when Tomi is about to start school, and chronicles his adventures and experiences in the months leading up to and during the Hungarian uprising.
While most of the narrative is told from young Tomi’s perspective as he attempts to understand the events unfolding around him, interwoven into the escape story are flashbacks of his parents’ World War II experiences—stories of labour and concentration camps, of survival and escape. Never, Again is Tomi’s journey — physical, emotional and symbolic — from innocence to experience. It is about the complexities of being a child during turbulent times. It is about faith, prejudice, ignorance, hate and nationalism, as well as kindness, loyalty, hope and courage.
About the author
Endre Farkas was born in Hungary and is a child of Holocaust survivors. He and his parents escaped during the 1956 uprising and settled in Montreal. His work has always had a political consciousness and has always pushed the boundaries of poetry. Since the 1970s, he has collaborated with dancers, musicians and actors to move the poem from page to stage. Still at the forefront of the Quebec English language literary scene - writing, editing, publishing and performing - Farkas is the author of eleven books, including Quotidian Fever: New and Selected Poems (1974-2007). He is the two-time regional winner of the CBC Poetry "Face Off" Competition. His play, Haunted House, based on the life and work of the poet A.M. Klein, was produced in Montreal in 2009. Farkas has given readings throughout Canada, USA, Europe and Latin America. His poems have been translated into French and Spanish, Hungarian, Italian, Slovenian and Turkish.
from Chapter 13
His parents are at the window in the sitting room. He scrambles out of bed to join them. "It's a tank! It's a real tank!" It's at the end of the street and it's rumbling towards them! It's huge. It takes up the width of the street.
Gabi and his parents are at the window now too.
"The Russians are back," Deszö-papa says. "I knew they wouldn't stay away."
Unlike Tomi's drawings, this tank doesn't have the big red star painted on its front. It has a white stripe running from front to back. Also, its hatch is closed. It looks like some giant hound, its claws ripping up the cobblestones as it advances up the street.
Out of nowhere, a group of young boys and girls run out into the middle of the street.
"Oh, no." His mother reaches for Tomi. "What in God's name are those children doing? The tank will crush them."
The children hold their ground and the tank comes to a slow, grinding halt. The tank and the children face each other.
"David and Goliath," his father says.
A boy darts out from an alley, and, like a spider, scurries up the side of the tank. He reaches into his pocket, pulls out a fistful of something and smears it across the peephole. He jumps off and the children all run off in different directions. It all happens in a flash. He jumps off and the children scatter in different directions. The street is deserted again. Only the motor of the tank can be heard.
Mesmerized, Tomi watches. At first, nothing seems to be happening. Then, like a mouth yawning, the hatch opens.
A hand pushes up the cover and quickly withdraws. A few minutes later, little by little, a leather-helmeted, goggled half-head appears. Like a groundhog peeping out of its hole, it nervously jerks from side to side, up and around, then quickly ducks back down. The hatch stays open. A minute or so later, the head reappears and this time stays. It rotates slowly. Soon, other parts of the soldier: neck, shoulders, torso starts to appear. The gunner settles in his turret, but before he can grip the handles of the machine gun the street's silence is broken by bursts of gunfire.
“In Endre Farkas’s novel Never, Again, the protagonist Tomi, a young Hungarian Jewish boy, tries to digest the history that has abruptly been unveiled to him: “He wants to ask his parents so many questions. He wants to know the meaning…” >>
— Danielle Barkley Montreal Review of Books
“Novel Exposes Hungarian Revolution's Dark Side
The 1956 revolution in Hungary is commonly viewed in the West as a heroic stand against Soviet oppression, but for many Jews, especially those living outside urban areas, there was a…” >>
— Janice Arnold The Canadian Jewish News
“Never, Again: A Hungarian Story With Universal Resonance
It’s 1956, a seminal year in modern Hungarian history. But for the residents of Békes, a village literally at the end of the line if you’re taking the train…” >>
— Ian McGillis Montreal Gazette