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One of The New York Times Book Review's "10 Best Books of 2015"

An NYRB Classics Original

The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary’s Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda’s housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda’s household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love—at least until Magda’s long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation.

Len Rix’s prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590177716
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 01/27/2015
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 191,068
Product dimensions: 4.99(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Magda Szabó (1917–2007) was born into an old Protestant family in Debrecen, Hungary’s “Calvinist Rome,” in the midst of the great Hungarian plain. Szabó, whose father taught her to converse with him in Latin, German, English, and French, attended the University of Debrecen, studying Latin and Hungarian, and went on to work as a teacher throughout the German and  Soviet occupations of Hungary in 1944 and 1945. In 1947, she published two volumes of poetry, Bárány (The Lamb), and Vissza az emberig (Return to Man), for which she received the Baumgartner Prize in 1949. Under Communist rule, this early critical success became a liability, and Szabó turned to writing fiction: her first novel, Freskó (Fresco), came out  in 1958, followed closely by Az oz (The Fawn). In 1959 she won the József Attila Prize, after which she went on to write many more novels, among them Katalin utca (Katalin Street, 1969), Ókút (The Ancient Well, 1970), Régimódi történet (An Old-Fashioned Tale, 1971), and Az ajtó (The Door, 1987). Szabó also wrote verse for children, plays, short stories, and nonfiction, including a tribute to her husband, Tibor Szobotka, a writer and translator of Tolkien and Galsworthy who died in 1982. A member of the European Academy of Sciences and a warden of the Calvinist Theological Seminary in Debrecen, Magda Szabó died in the town in which she was born, a book in her hand. In 2017 NYRB Classics will publish Iza’s Ballad (1963).

Len Rix is a poet, critic, and former literature professor who has translated five books by Antal Szerb, including the novel Journey by Moonlight (available as an NYRB Classic) and, most recently, the travel memoir The Third Tower. In 2006 he was awarded the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for his translation of The Door.

Ali Smith was born in Inverness, Scotland, in 1962 and lives in Cambridge. Her latest novel is How to Be Both.

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The Door 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is intense. I must admit that I really thought that the narrator was sort of spoiled in that she could not - at least initially - have any appreciation for the main character. It does come together - two social classes, two experiences - at the end. Well worth the read.
RobinDawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've never read a book like this before - or known a character as enthralling as Emerence - so feisty, fierce and unpredictable. I didn't think Szabo would be able to hold the reader's interest over such a long book and so many decades but she succeeds totally. The pacing is excellent showing the gradual development of a strong bond between the writer and her housekeeper, and the incremental revelations about Emerence's past - and her past is a fascinating window into the history of Hungary itself.I see a film is being made and Helen Mirren is to be Emerence - a little hard for me to imagine as I formed the impression from the book that Emerence was a short, solid, chunky, weathered, plain woman...but then Mirren is the ultimate shape-shifter!Don't miss this book.
edwinbcn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read very little translated literature from countries which are relatively unknown to me, because many books belonging to the literature of such countries is difficult to understand if you are not fully aware of the history and socio-cultural background of these countries. Nonetheless, I was persuaded to buy this book by the Hungarian author Magda Szabó because I had seen a very favourable review, was planning to visit Hungary in 2010 and had already read another novel by her.Unfortunately, it worked out just as I had feared (of course). The central character, Emerence, is an old woman whose life story stands for the recent history of Hungary. She is an extremely resilient, peculiar and capricious person, the kind of person people would wrinkle their nose at and describe as "a character", in real life. The reader's sympathy for her, at least mine, swung from dislike, to sympathy, and back to strong dislike. The name "Emerence" means "worthy of merit", and that is what she would deserve. However, the reader gradually finds out how she was mangled through Hungarian history. The equilibrium which she had achieved towards the end of her life, the dignity she commands through strict privacy, is eventually ruthlessly destroyed, and the story end with her ultimate humiliation.The difficulty in understanding the novel, lies in the difficulty of understanding Hungarian life, history and the likelihood of encountering a woman like Emerence.
alwright1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While in Budapest, I looked for some Hungarian novels to read. This is one that I came across in the CEU bookstore and thought it sounded good. (I was also interested because it seemed to be received as "literary" despite being a book by a woman about the relationship between two women.)A writer and her husband hire on a very unusual maid named Emerence to care for their house while they work. She is an odd force of nature, a rare character, and well respected by the whole community, but almost no one knows anything about her, and she does not allow others into her home at all. What follows the mystery is an investigation into the nature of friendship, love, privacy, and sense of self. I read it all on a plane in one day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Emerance is unforgettable. I would recommend this book to anyone
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