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B&N: Hungarian Fiction comes to America

Reading works by writers from a different part of the world from you are often the most eye-opening experience you can have without having to leave the room. This article by Adam Kirsch for the Barnes & Noble Review, follows award-winning Hungarian writer Magda Szabó and her incredible book The Door.

MagdaSzaboMagda Szabó’s The Door was first published in Hungary in 1987. Almost thirty years later, much has changed in the country Szabó writes about — it has gone from a late-Communist dictatorship to a democratic state to, most recently, an authoritarian nationalist regime. Szabó herself, one of twentieth-century Hungary’s major writers, died in 2007. Yet the story she tells inThe Door remains utterly timely, with the permanent up-to-dateness of a myth. And at the center of that myth stands a character — Emerence, an old woman who works as a servant and neighborhood factotum — who is as mysterious, primal, and grotesque as anyone to be found in a Greek tragedy. Proud, angry, simple, guarded, defiantly inscrutable, Emerence dominates the novel as she comes to dominate the lives of her employers.


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