Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener
A Novel

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Over Will’s objections, and the readers’ disbelief, bleeding-heart Annie agrees to help Edward find Van. A bad idea. As for Budapest itself—polluted, in physical disrepair, plagued by an ugly history, and populated by rude, corrupt, and bigoted locals—the author strongly implies that the misery and mayhem Annie experiences are the city’s fault.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

“Jessica Keener has written a gorgeous, lyrical, and sweeping novel about the tangled web of past and present. Suspenseful, perceptive, fast-paced, and ultimately restorative.” —Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue

Budapest: gorgeous city of secrets, with ties to a shadowy, bloody past.  It is to this enigmatic European capital that a young American couple, Annie and Will, move from Boston with their infant son shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. For Annie, it is an effort to escape the ghosts that haunt her past, and Will wants simply to seize the chance to build a new future for his family.

Eight months after their move, their efforts to assimilate are thrown into turmoil when they receive a message from friends in the US asking that they check up on an elderly man, a fiercely independent Jewish American WWII veteran who helped free Hungarian Jews from a Nazi prison camp. They soon learn that the man, Edward Weiss, has come to Hungary to exact revenge on someone he is convinced seduced, married, and then murdered his daughter.

Annie, unable to resist anyone’s call for help, recklessly joins in the old man’s plan to track down his former son-in-law and confront him, while Will, pragmatic and cautious by nature, insists they have nothing to do with Weiss and his vendetta. What Annie does not anticipate is that in helping Edward she will become enmeshed in a dark and deadly conflict that will end in tragedy and a stunning loss of innocence.

Atmospheric and surprising, Strangers in Budapest is, as bestselling novelist Caroline Leavitt says, a “dazzlingly original tale about home, loss, and the persistence of love.”
 

About Jessica Keener

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Jessica Keener wrote her first book when she was eight years old, stitching construction paper together with yarn, a holiday gift to her parents. As a child, she read and reread Andersen's and Grimm's fairy tales, biographies of famous people, mysteries, and animal stories such as Charlotte's Web and The Yearling, which caused her to sob with bodily abandonment. She wrote poetry in high school and college. After getting a Master's degree from Brown University in creative writing, she began publishing short stories in literary magazines. Jessica's fiction has been listed in The Pushcart Prize under Outstanding Writers. Writing awards include a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist's Grant Program, a Joan Jakobson Scholarship from Wesleyan Writers Conference; a Chekhov Prize for Excellence in Fiction by the editors of Wilderness House Literary Review; and second prize in Redbook magazine's fiction contest. For more than a dozen years she's also been a features writer for The Boston Globe, Design New England, O, the Oprah Magazine and other national magazines. In 2001, she published a business memoir, Time to Make the Donuts, with the founder of Dunkin Donuts. Night Swim is her debut novel.
 
Published November 14, 2017 by Algonquin Books. 352 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Strangers in Budapest
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Below average
on Aug 21 2017

Over Will’s objections, and the readers’ disbelief, bleeding-heart Annie agrees to help Edward find Van. A bad idea. As for Budapest itself—polluted, in physical disrepair, plagued by an ugly history, and populated by rude, corrupt, and bigoted locals—the author strongly implies that the misery and mayhem Annie experiences are the city’s fault.

Read Full Review of Strangers in Budapest: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Michael Thomas Barry on Nov 13 2017

Jessica Keener’s Strangers in Budapest is a powerfully provocative psychological thriller that combines engaging characters with a gripping and darkly atmospheric plot.

Read Full Review of Strangers in Budapest: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books
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