Number 79 Endeavour Street is an insignificant house a bit off from the centre of an unnamed little town in Romania, somewhere near the Hungarian border, with its usual mix of minority Hungarians and Romanians, and all the quirky, sad and happy and beautiful and terrifying tales that a house of four floors can contain in a Central-European city. Although we get to know every inhabitant of the house through the course of the novel, it is one particular flat of three rooms that is in the centre of the narrator’s attention: the three big chapters recount the stories of the three families living in the same apartment one after the other. And through their life, a complete panorama of Central-European existence is drawn from the late days of the communist dictatorship through the confusing and chaotic days of the revolution, up until the new times with the advent of the free market, Western influences and capitalism.
Little Lives is a book you would give your children when they ask you about the events and the life in the Eastern Bloc in the last fifty years. Sándor Zsigmond Papp succeeds in showing all the absurdities and tragedies of life under communism and during and after the system change in a very realistic and cruel, yet funny and loveable way. The cold objectivity of the narrator’s voice is counterbalanced by his deep understanding of human frailties, making this vast panorama of a novel a delightful and heartwarming read.