For #128, I’m giving the reins to our intrepid Contributing Editor Pei-Ling Lue, who was the issue editor for this extraordinary new story: “The Restoration of the Villa Where Tibor Kálmán Once Lived.” Enjoy!-Hannah
During World War II, my grandfather was sent to mainland China from Taiwan. At the close of the war, he, along with my grandmother and their two children, were stranded without a way to return to their homeland. At this time, my great-grandfather sent radio messages each day hoping to reach his son, to find a way to bring him home. My grandfather never received those messages. Eventually, the family found a way home on an old smuggler’s ship, braving the pirate-infested waters, but there was always a feeling in the family for what might have been had they been able to return earlier.
“The Restoration of the Villa Where Tibor Kálmán Once Lived” reminded me of that old family war story. László, the main character, has committed atrocities as a soldier during the siege of Budapest, but his mind keeps returning to Tibor Kálmán’s villa, the place he was trying to reach before he commits his first traitorous act. He searches out the villa after the siege, hoping that when he finds the villa, he can find his own redemption.
Usually when I read stories from the submissions pile, they sound very much the same to me, it’s very rare to find a story that has a unique voice. I was drawn in by the first few lines of this story, the whole world of this war was so expertly drawn that it appeared vividly in my mind. László is such a complex character–I found myself fascinated and repulsed by his actions, and yet, his story seemed more real to me than many of the usual war stories depicting heroes and acts of courage. This is a story that will resonate with readers long after they finish reading.
You can read more about how Tamas Dobozy wrote “The Restoration of the Villa Where Tibor Kálmán Once Lived” by reading his Q&A.