The Last Window-Giraffe


“Zilahy respects neither god nor man, a state of affairs which, for all practical purposes means that he can observe the world each time as if for the first time. What’s more, he writes down only what he sees, what his eyes believe, and yet the whole thing ends up profoundly serious.” —Gábor Németh, author of The Summer of the Marmot, winner of the Márai Prize

“An absorbing blend of Middle-European angst, Monty Python, and Tristram Shandy.” —The Economist

“I’ll admit at the beginning what is usually said at the end. I like this book, and there’s no way I can talk about it without getting personal . . . It is good to cry and laugh. A good book, Peter, a good book.” —Georgi Gospodinov, author of Time Shelter, winner of International Booker Prize 2023

“Zilahy delivers a generational confession.”—Times Literary Supplement

“There’s a wizardry in Zilahy’s ability to shrink an entire historical epoch to human scale while at the same time elevating ordinary experience to mythic significance. This is intellectual alchemy of the highest order, executed with wit and compassion. Zilahy can murder a sacred cow and canonize an unknown victim of totalitarianism in a single sentence.”—Marina Abramović

“In these bittersweet pages you will find the fall of the regimes, and the last twenty years of Eastern Europe.” —Rolling Stone Magazine

“Peter Zilahy is the white raven of Hungarian literature… the freshness of his experience comes through in the text; it’s as if he’d been there at every milestone, as if the book were written by a journalist with the pen of a poet.” —Péter Esterházy, author of Celestial Harmonies

“Peter Zilahy has written a book that almost defies description.” —BBC Radio 3

“Peter Zilahy is just the vagabond polymath the New Europe needs. Don’t wait. Climb aboard the roller-coaster today. Read The Last Window-Giraffe as an elaborate, erudite, gut-wrenching belly-laugh at everything that went wrong and all the people who failed to fix it.” —Lawrence Norfolk, author of Lemprière’s Dictionary, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award

“In the same way that Catch-22 is about the madness of war, The Last Window-Giraffe is about the madness of everyday life in a dictatorship” —Orient Express

“An elementary mix of reportage, documentary poetry and intimate inner-archeology…Péter Zilahy, wanderer, adventurer, initiator of a great many performances and provocations, much resembles Jean-Arthur Rimbaud during the Commun of Paris. Though I haven’t got a clue what Jean-Arthur really looked like, I have a strong feeling that he looked like Péter Zilahy.” —Yuri Andrukhovych, author of Twelve Circles

“Not only a great piece of literature but a visual feast as well.” —BBC, The Romantic Road

“Zilahy captures the poetry of resistance with the confidence of a sleepwalker.” —Ingo Schulze, author of 33 Moments of Happiness

“The voice evokes a grasping Pynchon in its inclusiveness, inventiveness, and enthusiasm.” —Context Magazine

“Wonderful!”—Victor Pelevin, author of Babylon



With ongoing wars and autocrats vying for power everywhere we look, The Last Window-Giraffe resonates both as a history lesson and a warning about what the future can hold. American readers will be thrilled to discover this genre-defying book about freedom, revolution, war, and the communal joy of protesting.

This novel has been translated into twenty-two languages; it was book of the year in Ukraine and an inspiration for the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. It appears in English in Tim Wilkinson’s superb translation and this edition features a new foreword by Marina Abramović.

The Last Window-Giraffe takes its title from the fact that the first and last letters of the Hungarian alphabet match the first letters for the words “window” and “giraffe,” and is modeled after an illustrated Hungarian primary school textbook.

Read Marina Abramović’s foreword at The Paris Review.

Read an excerpt at Literary Hub.

Read an interview with Zilahy at Words Without Borders.

Watch Zilahy on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Budapest episode.


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