The Songs We Hide

A novel set in Cold War Hungary
Forthcoming from Coffeetown Press in 2018

It’s 1951, and a grim hush has settled over Hungary. After a lost war and a brutal transition to communism, Hungarians live under constant threat of blacklisting, property confiscation, arrest, imprisonment and worse. In this milieu of dread, peasant Péter Benedek finds his life upended when his family’s best land is seized. Moving to Budapest for a manual labor job, Péter meets Katalin Varga, an unwed mother whose baby’s father has disappeared—most likely at the hands of the secret police. Both Péter and Katalin are keeping their heads down and their mouths clamped shut, because silence is the only safety they know.

But they have something in common besides fear: they are singers, not meant for this unbearable silence. When Katalin starts giving Péter voice lessons, their music together becomes an intrepid step out of hiding. Little by little they tell each other what they cannot tell others. In their bond of trust, they find relief and some unexpected happiness.

Yet the hurts and threats in their lives have never disappeared, only waited. As these break into harsh reality, is hope even possible? Péter and Katalin must face their hardest tests yet—and learn to carve dignity and beauty out of pain.