No Stopping Train is the magnum opus and final novel of the late writer Les Plesko, a powerful, swirling novel of memory and violence set during the Hungarian Revolution.
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt following World War II that spread quickly across the destabilizing country. A new government pledged to re-establish free elections until a large Soviet force invaded, killing more than 2500 Hungarians and forcing 200,000 Hungarians to flee the country. Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months until a new Soviet-installed government suppressed all opposition. Public discussion of this revolution was suppressed in Hungary for more than thirty years.
Although the revolution failed, it served as a source of great inspiration to many Hungarians, and here Les Plesko taps into his country’s history as the dramatic backdrop to his most accomplished and powerful novel. Sandor and Margit are young lovers suffering with their nation through the degradations of war, hunger, and political oppression in Budapest. Into their lives comes the mercurial Erzsebet – ravaged, war-torn, alluring. Their eventual love triangle upends an already tenuous existence and threatens what little safety they have found in a nation on the brink of revolution. When Sandor’s activities as an underground publisher are exposed in a vicious act of betrayal, the lives of each of our characters will never be the same.
No Stopping Train is a stylistic tour de force and the final work of Les Plesko.
In his presence, I saw how deeply I feel entitled to happiness. Not expecting life to deliver happiness, but believing it can deliver meaning, Les showed us all his working method. Year after year, day in, day out. For us, he was and is a writers’ writer. Uncompromising. Unbought. Free.
In his works the guy never got the girl, the condition was always terminal, the rain always a portent of flood. He believed the small moments of grace we gave each other, human to human, was all there was, all there would ever be.
[O]ne ultimately comes away seduced by Plesko’s prose.
Here, the reader will find a masterwork in language and imagery . . . Bearing the weight of his literary career, Plesko’s long-awaited novel is a powerful meditation on his own country’s history and the expansiveness of humanity. Fans of historical fiction will be flummoxed, while serious readers of literary fiction will rejoice.