writer · book artist
The János Book
a limited edition artist's book researched, written & bound by Alex Appella
See the English trade edition of this book HERE.
How long is 90 years?
From the silence of its long black cover, The János Book opens, and explodes with what had been unspeakable for over 70 years.
“90 years is long enough to be a child in World War One, a man in World War Two…”
“90 years is long enough for secrets to last 70…”
My Hungarian grandparents emigrated to California in 1931. They passed away before I was born, but left a legacy of questions that began to surface in our home in the 1980s. By then, the only remaining family member who could answer those questions was János (pronounced Ya-noash), my grandfather’s youngest brother, who had emigrated from Transylvania to Argentina in 1949. The questions were innocent enough. My mother always believed she had only two uncles—János and Imre. But then a photo of four young men was found among my grandfather’s things. Three faces were familiar. Who was the fourth man?
In 1994 I traveled to Argentina to meet János, to ask the questions. The answers—the secrets—revealed our identity, and revealed the pain of lying, even to protect those you love. The János Book not only encompasses a family’s history, it reveals the man who, at the age of 90, decided to tell it. The reader is taken on a journey from Oregon to Argentina, to Transylvania, and beyond. Original letters, photographs and paintings entwine János’ testimony with my poetry to reveal a family’s identity whispered away two generations prior.
12 years in the making, The János Book tells a novel’s sized story in 29 wide format, digitally produced collages of text and images.
About the book:
8.5 x 25 x 1.5 inches (closed).
29 digitally produced collages bound in a hardback Japanese stabbinding,
housed in a clam shell box.
The János Book was printed on Colorspot Maiz paper, using an Epson Ink Jet Printer.
All acid-free materials.
This limited edition of 50 numbered copies was begun in 2006.
Wesleyan College, Olin Library. Middletown, Connecticut
Smith College, Neilson Library. Northampton, Massachusetts
Yale University. New Haven, Connecticut
Stanford University, Judaic Collections. Palo Alto, California
Phoenix Public Library. Phoenix, Arizona
UC Irvine. Irvine, California
UC Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara, California
Texas Tech University, Southwest Collections. Lubbock, Texas
University of Denver. Denver, Colorado
Reed College. Portland, Oregon
University of Miami. Richtor Library. Miami, Florida
Oregon Holocaust Museum. Portland, Oregon
University of Oregon. Eugene, Oregon
Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Topeka, Kansas.
New York Public Library. New York, New York.