From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The first work by Bartis to be translated into English follows Ander Weer through 15 years dominated by his oedipal relationship with his agoraphobic mother, Rebeka, while, outside, Hungary transitions from Soviet satellite to independent state. Star of Hungarian stage and screen, Rebeka is humiliatingly demoted from lead actress to supporting role in an underhanded bid to pressure her into convincing her daughter, a concert violinist, to return to Hungary. Instead, Rebeka declares her daughter dead and retreats into her apartment, where she remains until her death. Ander becomes complicit in his mother's isolation and fuels the growing oddity of their relationship by writing brief letters to his mother as though they were written by his sister. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Eszter, grows increasingly unstable as Ander refuses to leave his mother for her. Oddly beautiful and unsettling, the novel boldly illustrates the lengths people go to in securing their own private hells.
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Reading like the bastard child of Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek, Tranquility is political and personal suffering distilled perfectly and transformed into dark, viscid beauty. It is among the most haunted, most honest, and most human novels I have ever read. —Brian Evenson
A venerable—even Endgame-ish—addition to the literature of unhappy families. —Rivka Galchen
With impressive force of language, Bartis succeeds in laying bare the ambivalences of his characters, their love-hate relationships and self destructive energies . . . The play that mother and son perform . . . is part Strindberg and part Chekhov, but mostly sheer Beckett or even pure theater of cruelty. —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Oddly beautiful and unsettling, the novel boldly illustrates the lengths people go to in securing their own private hells. —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)