(ANDRES LASZLO SR.: EUROPEAN WRITER LOOKING FOR A HOME)
1. ANDRES LASZLO SR. WAS A GREAT EUROPEAN WRITER.
He probably started writing in Hungary, but if so, none of his early texts (probably theater plays) seems to have survived. He wrote several books on Goya’s engravings before he (again?) started to write fiction. His two first books were period pieces, depicting war and pre-war life in Budapest and Paris; irony as well as an ability to see “light” where most would have seen only darkness were his trademarks. His fourth work – after a short relapse into theatre (Dona Juana) - was a collection of short stories, followed and preceded by his three major novels: Mother Unknown, My Uncle Jacinto, and Paco Never Fails. VIDEO
His penultimate book, My Uncle Jacinto, became a bestseller (now available in eight languages) and a blockbuster movie. His last book, Paco Never Fails, became a movie as well but didn’t get the recognition it deserved, as legal disagreements kept it from being distributed outside Spain. Mother Unknown has recently been translated into English and is looking for a producer. At this time (1957) Andres Laszlo’s writing skills were such that he was ready to take on the world, but that didn’t happen. So, what happened? He slept on French television, he settled down with a gorgeous Swedish lass (my mother), he placed his son in the lap of Marilyn Monroe, and his best friends were film-director Ladislao Vajda and Spanish painter Manuel Blasco. Among his more illustrious acquaintances and friends one finds people such as: Ernest Hemmingway, Anthony Quinn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Manolete, Lola Medina, von Karajan and Orson Wells (actually, my father claimed that it was he who had led Orson Wells to Anton Karas and thus claims partial credit for The Harry Lime Theme, but there are competing stories).
2. YET HE HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN.
So, if my father used to be regarded as one of Europe's most promising mid-20th-century writers, why haven’t you heard of him?
1. No homeland. Born Austro-Hungarian, nationalized French and writing in Spain and in Spanish, Andres Laszlo was a true European, but at the time there was no EU, and he has never been “adopted” by any particular country (Hungary doesn't really care, but Spain or France...). Therefore, there has been no or little political (and thus economic) interest to promote him.
2. Difficult topics. He wrote about a day in a drunkard’s life (with nothing except honour at stake), about a man chasing the unknown mother of his son (ok, so that's a pretty good idea) and about a man making a living by impregnating aspiring wet-nurses (a risqué if not taboo subject at the time).
3. Stopped at the wrong time. He suddenly stopped writing when the world was "at his mercy." Maybe, because he felt that Paco Never Fails didn't get the recognition it deserved.
4. Lazy son. I’ve had a book of my own that (mainly indirectly) made me economically independent. That - together with the adventures and writings that followed - is my excuse for why I, until more than a quarter of a century after his demise, have neglected to promote my father's legacy.
Andres Laszlo’s texts are falling into oblivion, and I have taken it upon myself to have a go at reversing this process and to make an effort to prevent this from happening. However, though I have the will to do this, I have neither the contacts nor the capital to do so effectively for much longer: I need assistance.
3. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE DONE AND WHAT I AM DOING.
E-books. (i) Most of my father’s books have been scanned, “OCRed” and turned into e-text. (ii) Rights for Spanish, Italian and Japanese texts are acquired, and I can have the e-rights for French and (maybe) German translations; English Random House was problematic, and I have therefore re-translated "their" two texts. (iii) New (10+) translations have been made & (iv) There could be as many as 30 e-books finished/published by the end of 2017.
Adaptations. The Challenge is my (radical) adaptation of My Uncle Jacinto. In my story-world Madrid and "La Quinta" becomes Cape Town and Mandela Park, bullfighting becomes boxing, the 1940s becomes 2010s, and 19,000 words become 75,000. This adaptation presently exists in 6 languages and has been turned into a film script. I have also translated Mi Tio Jacinto, Paco el Seguro, and Solo el Paisaje Cambia into English - My Uncle Jacinto, Paco Never Fails and Mother Unknown - while making minor changes.
English platform. In order to successfully re-launch Andres Laszlo Sr., an English-language base would be very useful. I have therefore had his three major novels translated, as well as his collection of short stories; the latter as a part of The Laszlo & Laszlo Chronicles. Also, his Donja Juana, Don Juan, Juan y Juanito is in the process of being translated to Doña Juana (June 2017).
Biography & Bibliography. I have researched and documented Senior's life and literary production; the result is available on Wikipedia. There was a time when I was frequently contacted by students and researchers that wanted to write essays/thesis’ on my father. I always rejected them, but today they would be more than welcome.
Contacts made. (i) Balassi Institute is a Hungarian organization dedicated to promoting Hungarian culture abroad, but they are not interested in Andres Laszlo Sr. (my feeling is that nobody thinks of him as a Hungarian writer), (ii) RFF is a Dutch film festival; I’ve applied for production grants to produce The Challenge (my adaptation of My Uncle Jacinto) together with a well-known Hollywood director but the project was turned down, (iii) the University of Malaga has a project called “Recovery of the Andalusian Literary Heritage” but there nobody seems to know much about Andres Laszlo Sr. (yet I believe he's about the best Malaga has ever had...), (iv) EU. I have communicated a little with the EU, but though it seems my project could be eligible for grants, it simply seems "too much hassle, " and I am not the right sort of person for this. (v) Diputación de Málaga has a cultural program, “Culturama.” that promotes cultural activities and a “coordinador de cultura” put me in contact with MMF/Malaga Film Festival. They showed Mi Tio Jacinto during their 2015 festival, but they do not seem interested in any further promotion & (vi) TV2 in 2017 seems to rank Mi Tio Jacinto as a top 5 Spanish movie, something that I yet have to follow up on.
4. AND THIS IS WHAT I HOPE TO DO.
New translations. I want/intend to continue translating Andres Laszlo Sr. into new languages, especially into English and my native Swedish. Also, the big languages – Mandarin, Hindu, Russian and Brazilian/Portuguese – should be considered.
New films/film scripts. My Uncle Jacinto is already filmatized but would also make for an excellent animated movie, and my adaptation of this book (The Challenge) already exists as a film-script. Paco Never Fails is also a movie, and twice I have been called to Gallimard in Paris to approve new adaptations. Mother Unknown was by my father turned into a film script at the time of his demise (so somebody must have contracted or at least encouraged him). His collection of twenty-plus short stories - now merged with my own short stories into The Laszlo & Laszlo Chronicles - contains several stories that read well as synopsis’/treatments for film scripts.
Texts to libraries & bookstores. I intend to try to make Andres Laszlo Sr.’s texts available from libraries, from online stores and from PoD distributors. Presently 20+ titles are published on Amazon.
Website. I have created this website (www.andreslaszlo.com), and I intend to promote it so as to present Andres Laszlo to a wider public.
EU. Though my father lacked “one 100%” homeland, he had “four 25% homelands" that today all are full members of the EU. “A forgotten best-selling fiction writer with ‘four’ EU nationalities,” sounds like something that should warrant at least some EU enthusiasm.
Things I can send you. 1) Articles (written by me) about Andres Laszlo Sr. in "any" language, 2) Any of my father’s texts in any translation, 3) Biography, 4) Bibliography, 5) My adaptation of My Uncle Jacinto in Spanish, Italian, French, Swedish, German or English, 6) The Challenge as (English) script & 7) Myself, as a lecturer or commentator on my father's life, texts or movies.
Overall. I am doing/have done my best (or at least a lot) to revive my father's texts and writings, but I haven't had the response that I had hoped for. Also: (i) I have my own writings to promote, especially my Dysfunctional Discourses & (ii) I do not have the means to promote Senior ad infinitum, so unless I get some assistance in this enterprise...