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Home Game by Endre Farkas

Finalist for The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2020


Tommy Wolfstein escaped from Hungary with his parents when he was eight years old, and while his parents will never forget the persecution they endured as Jews, Tommy’s memories of that time are scant. He has become thoroughly Canadianized. However, when his university soccer team is invited to Hungary to play Tommy will learn about his family’s difficult past and the ongoing dangers they —and he — face.


“We’re going to pass my grandfather’s town just before we hit Debrecen.” Tommy said. “My father was in a labour camp there.”

“What’s a labour camp?” Schmutz asked.

Tommy thought everyone knew what it was but then realized ‘everyone’ meant Jews. “It’s where Hungarian Jewish men were sent when the war broke out. It was part of the army except they weren’t allowed to carry guns.”

“Why not?”

“Jews were not considered real Hungarians. They weren’t trusted with guns. Instead they were given picks, shovels and brooms. They were given all the shitty work: fixing roads, digging ditches, cleaning latrines. And some, according to my father, were sent to the front and used as mine clearers.”

“What are mine clearers?” Schmutz asked.

“The ones forced to go clear land mines that the enemy planted before they retreated. They had to go find and dismantle them before the regular soldiers advanced. Many of them were blown up.”


“Does your grandfather still live there?”

“No. He moved in with my aunt in Debrecen. He’s pretty old.”

“What about your grandmother?"

“Both my grandmothers died in concentration camps.” Tommy said, turning back to the window and the landscape beyond.

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