The Songs We Hide

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

It’s 1951, and in the last six years Hungary has lost a terrible war and gone through a forced transition to communism. Blacklisting, searches, property confiscations, arrests and imprisonments form the nation’s grim backdrop of life, and peasant Péter Benedek lives looking over his shoulder.

When his family’s best land is seized, Péter must leave his village to take a job in Budapest. There he meets Katalin Varga, an unwed mother whose baby’s father has vanished, 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.

Yet they are singers, and silence is unbearable. When Katalin starts giving Péter voice lessons, singing together becomes the first intrepid step out of hiding. Little by little they tell each other what they cannot tell others. A bond of trust grows between them. As old pain rips open and old threats break into reality, that bond must strengthen them for the hard tests ahead.