The Spirit of Hungary: A Panorama of Hungarian History and Culture, by Stephen Sisa. Sisa succeeds in producing a comprehensive history of various aspects of Hungarian culture and art, while illuminating the spirit that is Hungary.
The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat, by Paul Lendvai and Ann Major. This is an extremely informative and easily readable history of a little known people, culture, and country. This would be a great book to brush up on Hungary before your trip.
Strictly From Hungary, by Ladislas Farago and John Farago, a humorous account of the talented people, from wonderful artists to spectacular con-artists and charlatans, that have hailed from Hungary.
Danube, by Italian scholar Claudio Magris. Sometimes ponderous, in the style of Italian writers, it is worth a read before you depart.
The Nazi’s Last Victims: The Holocaust in Hungary, by Randolph L. Braham and Scott Miller. This book recounts the history of the last country to be invaded by Nazi Germany, a topic that is often left out when discussing Holocaust history.
Literature by Hungarian Authors
Journey by Moonlight, by Antel Szerb, An exciting and beautifully written/translated story of a young man haunted by his past while he flees employment in his father’s factory and endures the disastrous start to his marriage. Szerb has been hailed as one of the master novelists of the 20th century, check out his other books, specifically, The Pendragon Legend.
Kaddish for an Unborn Child, by Imre Kertesz. This eloquent yet tragic story tells about a Jewish writer in Hungary who is haunted by his decision to not bring a child into the world of the Hungarian Holocaust. It is an interesting meditation on the Holocaust, and although painful at times, it brings anyone who reads it into a contemplative mood.
Memoir of Hungary, 1944-1948, by Marai Sandor. This is a humorous and astute memoir by exiled novelist Marai Sandor. He clearly and scathingly enlightens the reader to the life of a Hungarian in the years between the Nazi attacks and the solidification of communism in the society.
The Adventures of Sinbad, by Gyula Krudy. If you’re looking for a fun, Hungary-based novel, on the lighter side of reading, this should be your choice.
The Door, by Magda Szabo. An unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women.
Movies about or set in Hungary
The Porcelain Doll. Three fables of Hungarian rural life are interwoven in a whimsical tale set in the time period between the 1930’s and 1950’s.
Somewhere in Europe. This film is about an older musician who takes in children orphaned by WWII. It is a story of human compassion and the necessity of people to befriend and rely upon each other.