cover image The Devil Is a Black Dog

The Devil Is a Black Dog

Sándor Jászberényi, trans. from the Hungarian by M. Henderson Ellis. New Europe (Random House, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-9900043-2-5

This impressive debut collection of 19 stories comes from Jászberényi, a Hungarian news correspondent who has covered the conflicts in Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The book employs minimalist prose and, in several of the stories, the recurring protagonist Daniel Marosh, an ill-fated, sardonic war journalist. In “The Strongest Knot,” Marosh reveals that he is a chronic insomniac due to problems with his adulterous wife who has blocked his visitations with their child. “The Dead Ride Fast” finds Marosh covering the political revolution in Cairo, where he bumps into an old colleague and kindred spirit, the German photographer Sahra Gamalt. In “Something About the Job” an older, crankier Marosh is told by his boss that his subpar work makes him expendable unless he is willing to show a promising young photojournalist the ropes on assignment in Chad. The other standout tales, such as the unsettling and darkly comedic “The Desert Is Cold In the Morning” and “How We Didn’t Win,” demonstrate the range of Jászberényi’s storytelling talents. (Dec.)