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Billiards at the Hotel Dobray
Billiards at the Hotel Dobray

Billiards at the Hotel Dobray

By Goran Vojnovic, Translated by Rawley Grau


220 Pages, 5 x 7.75

Trade Paper, $17.95 (US $17.95) (CA $23.95)

Publication Date: April 2020

ISBN 9781912545254

Rights: US, CA & SAM

Istros Books (Apr 2020)

Sorry, this item is temporarily out of stock


A family prepares for a bar mitzvah as their Hungarian Army-occupied village moves ever closer to the horrors of WWII

In the northern Slovenian city of Murska, Sobota stands the renowned Hotel Dobray, once the gathering place of townspeople of all nationalities and social strata who lived in this typical town on the fringe of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It had always been home to numerous ethnically and culturally mixed communities that gave it the charm and melos of Central-European identity. But now, in the thick of World War II, the town is occupied by the Hungarian army. Franz Schwartz's wife, Ellsie has been preparing their son Isaac, a gifted violinist, for his first solo concert, which is to take place at Hotel Dobray. Isaac is to perform on his bar mitzvah and 13th birthday on April 26, 1944. When the German army marches into town and forces all Jews to display yellow stars on their clothes, Ellsie advises her husband that the family should flee the town and escape to Switzerland. Schwartz promises her he will obtain forged documents, but not before Isaac performs his concert at the hotel. A year later, in March 1945, Schwartz returns, on foot, from the concentration camp as one of the few survivors.


"This segment of Šarotar's prose can hardly find any parallel in literature. What does come to my mind, however, is a cinematic one: the Hungarian master of slowness, Béla Tarr, directing screenplays written by László Krasznahorkai." Vecer, Slovenian Daily newspaper

"Billiards at Hotel Dobray is a book written with masterly skill. Šarotar takes his time and his narration glides slowly among the stories and people's destinies and across the landscape; a book bereft of all radicality. The eye's gaze from way up in the air is cool, distanced, almost indifferent to people's destinies; as if they were looked upon from a great distance, temporal as well spatial, and the destinies of individuals were almost entirely insignificant specks in a more broadly outlined picture." â€â€LUD Literatura

Author Biography

Goran Vojnovic is a filmmaker and screenwriter. He co-wrote he film Good Luck Nedim!, which won the Heart of Sarajevo Award. He has directed three short films and one feature film. He is the author of Southern Scum Go Home! and When Jimmy Choo Meets Fidel Castro. Rawley Grau, originally from Baltimore, has lived in Ljubljana since 2001. His translation of Dušan Šarotar's Panorama was shortlisted for the 2017 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. His translation of A Science Not from the Earth won the AATSEEL Prize for Best Scholarly Translation in 2016.