Sixteen months ago, on BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read, I presented as my book of the moment newly translated Holocaust memoir by Béla Zsolt, called Nine Suitcases. A Budapest intellectual, Zsolt described the horrors he endured through a prism of coffee-house irony, never missing a comic aside or a human foible. His detachment, rare among tragic memoirists, gave the events an electrifying immediacy.
Discussed in the context of Barbara Trapido’s Brother of the More Famous Jack, proposed by Antonia Quirke, and Sue MacGregor’s choice,
A View of the World by Norman Lewis, the book proposed an altogether different definition of social normality on English teatime radio. I had to be careful not to say anything that would cause a listener to choke on a scone and did not expect much of a response.
However, one of those who listened to the programme was the actor-playwright, David Prince. He decided to turn Nine Suitcases into a stage play, which he has performed this year at Cardiff and the Edinburgh Fringe. This week he performs it twice in London, at the Hungarian Cultural Centre. Go, see.