Heroes Don’t Cry, Judit Kopacsi-Gelberger’s new book
October 18th 2010
Some books write themselves while others require a little more intervention. In 1992, Judith Kopácsi-Gelberger published a short book about her Hungarian childhood in which she captured the details of her tumultuous family life. Her father was Sándor Kopácsi, the Police Chief of Budapest in the years running up to and including the Revolution. “I strictly focused on my experiences as a child,” says the author who “wrote it as it happened and how I lived it.”
In that turbulent and violent period Kopácsi-Gelberger’s father took a decision that put his life at risk. He refused to intervene when a group of university students started demonstrating in the streets. As Police Chief he was expected to intervene, and to do so harshly. But the students were unarmed. His decision not to shoot into a defenceless crowd resulted in his arrest by the Soviet army and his threatened execution. “It was a great emotional challenge to portray those events, as they were still too raw in my heart and my mind,” says Kopácsi-Gelberger.
Flash forward. It’s 1965 and the young (and penniless) author has arrived in Canada on short-term visa. Her goal is to become a permanent resident and to work to secure the safe reunification of her Hungarian family. Those details form the contents of her latest book, Heroes Don’t Cry, published through Booksurge.
Heroes Don’t Cry is based on a translation of her Hungarian original and is more than double its length. This was not an easy book to complete. “The English version took almost thirty years to write,” she says. “The final one was (as my family jokingly recalls) version number 6000. But by the time it was completed the emotional side had been somewhat tempered, and I could concentrate on the historical aspects as well.”
Kopácsi-Gelberger explains the difference between her two books. She wrote the 1992 version in Hungarian for a Hungarian readership familiar with the events of 1956. “As the English version was written for people not very familiar with Hungarian history, it was very important for me to put the story in its whole historical frame. It was at times frustrating, because, I suddenly had to find the right words to explain things that until then I took for granted; things that I wouldn't have to explain to an average Hungarian. But the story had to stand on its own, so I researched the archives and dug into the family chronicles. Lucky for me, I also inherited my father's notes and interviews and all the stories not necessarily included in his book.”
Heroes Don’t Cry is published through the publishing service Booksurge, which means that most readers will purchase it online. “It was a conscious decision,” says Kopácsi-Gelberger. “I wanted to have total control of its content and looks.”
Besides being responsible for the “look and feel” of her book, as a self-published author, Judith Kopácsi-Gelberger is also responsible for promoting and marketing it. “Quite frankly I enjoy the process of marketing. Meeting with people and explaining what the book is about, and later hearing their reaction. As a matter of fact, I received such a phone call last night from people, who having finished reading my book, took the trouble of finding my phone number to tell me how much they enjoyed reading it, and found it important to pass it on to their children, grandchildren and their friends. It was the most gratifying experience.”
Heroes Don’t Cry is available from the Amazon.com site, (ISBN-13: 978-1439220979) . It is also available in selected “bricks and mortar” bookstores, including the Pannonia Bookstore in Toronto and the Chapters stores in the Brampton region where the author now lives. More details of the Kopácsi family story can be found at the author’s blog site: http://thekopacsigelbergerproject.blogspot.com.