Journalist to sign 'I Kiss Your Hands Many Times' Aug. 28 at BrowseaboutBook tells story of love against backdrop of anti-Semitism in 1940s Europe
Browseabout Books will host a reading and book signing with Marianne Szegedy-Maszák, author of "I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls and Wars in Hungary."
Szegedy-Maszák is a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The New Republic, Newsweek and Psychology Today, among others. She has worked as a reporter at the New York Post, an editor at Congressional Quarterly, a professor of journalism at American University, and as a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report. This is her first book.
"I Kiss Your Hands Many Times" is a story about the author’s parents, severed by war and politics, who triumphed over unimaginable obstacles. Framed by a cache of letters written between 1940 and 1947, Szegedy-Maszák tells the story, at once intimate and epic, of the complicated relationship Hungary had with its Jewish population - the moments of glorious humanism that stood apart from its history of anti-Semitism - and with the rest of the world. She resurrects a lost world of splendor and carefully limns the moral struggles that history exacted from a country and its individuals.
Szegedy-Maszák’s parents, Hanna and Aladár, met and fell in love in 1940 over a series of visits to Hanna’s family estate and long drives in the countryside outside of Budapest. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry - a vocal anti-Fascist who was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Dachau. She was the granddaughter of Manfred Weiss, the industrialist patriarch of an aristocratic Jewish family. Though many in the Weiss family had converted to Catholicism decades earlier, when the Germans invaded Hungary in March 1944, they were forced into hiding. In a secret and controversial deal brokered with Heinrich Himmler, the wealthy family turned over their vast holdings in exchange for their safe passage to Portugal.
After nearly two years without contact, Aladár - who had emerged from Dachau an anxious and fragile version of himself - located Hanna and wrote her a letter that warned that he was not the man she’d last seen, but he was still in love with her. After months of waiting for visas and transit, she finally arrived in a devastated Budapest in December 1945, where they were at last reunited and wed.
From Budapest to Washington, D.C., from Lisbon to Dachau, "I Kiss Your Hands Many Times" is Szegedy-Maszák’s deliberate unraveling of Hanna and Aladár’s distinct story from the grand family legends she grew up with, her education of a whole era through personal stories long kept secret and her journey to make the unknown known.
The event will take place at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 28. In addition to signing books, Szegedy-Maszák will also read from her work and answer questions from the audience. Browseabout Books is at 133 Rehoboth Ave. in Rehoboth Beach.