With To Err Is Divine, Hungarian writer Agota Bozai has fashioned a keen reflection on the overpowering excesses of human greed. Anna Levay, a widow and secondary-school teacher in a small resort city in Lake Balaton, is close to retirement. One evening, after her bath, Anna discovers a strange light floating about her head. It is a halo, like that of a saint. Anna is not a particularly good person and is, in fact, an atheist. She sets about trying to conceal her halo, but realises that only the truly innocent, small children and animals, can see it. But the concurrent power to heal and produce miracles are visible to a less exclusive audience, and once the greedy mayor and physician of the town discover Anna’s new gifts, they set about using her to their advantage. They build a luxury health resort and line their pockets. Written as surveillance reports from heaven, the eleven chapters recount the event surrounding the (as it turns out) mistakenly bestowed halo in this richly ironic tale. Bozai’s novel, first published in Hungarian in 1998, is a stunning portrait of a world disposed to depravity in the pursuit of wealth.
To Err Is Divine
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"Bozai's English-language debut, a bestseller in Germany and Hungary, pokes wily, subversive fun at Communist backwardness, capitalist excesses, religious suggestibility and stubborn atheism alike..." —Publishers Weekly
AGOTA BOZAI was born in 1965 in Siofok, Hungary. In 1985 she graduated with a degree in philology from the University of Cluj Napoca, Romania. Since 1992 she has worked as a freelance journalist for Hungarian Radio and Television, and for various newspapers. She lives in Hungary.
“Bozai’s English-language debut, a bestseller in Germany and Hungary, pokes wily, subversive fun at Communist backwardness, capitalist excesses, religious suggestibility and stubborn atheism alike… as dark and funny as it is consciousness-raising.” —Publishers Weekly
“[T]his novel’s true luminosity is its levity, which artfully veils a sad story about human greed and a frugal old woman who would gladly trade sainthood to have her long-dead revolutionary husband back.” —Booklist