An NYRB Classics Original

The Door is an unsettli..." />
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About the Author: Magda Szabó

Magda Szabó was a Hungarian writer, arguably Hungary's foremost female novelist. She also wrote dramas, essays, studies, memories and poetry.

Born in Debrecen, Szabó graduated at the University of Debrecen as a teacher of Latin and of Hungarian. She started working as a teacher in a Calvinist all-girl school in Debrecen and Hódmezővásárhely. Between 1945 and 1949 she was working in the Ministry of Religion and Education. She married the writer and translator Tibor Szobotka in 1947.

She began her writing career as a poet, publishing her first book Bárány ("Lamb") in 1947, which was followed by Vissza az emberig ("Back to the Human") in 1949. In 1949 she was awarded the Baumgarten Prize, which was--for political reasons--withdrawn from her on the very day it was given. She was dismissed from the Ministry in the same year.

During the establishment of Stalinist rule from 1949 to 1956, the government did not allow her works to be published. Since her unemployed husband was also stigmatized by the communist regime, she was forced to teach in an elementary school during this period.

Her first novel, Freskó ("Fresco"), written in these years was published in 1958 and achieved overwhelming success among readers. Her most widely read novel, Abigél ("Abigail", 1970), is an adventure story about a schoolgirl boarding in eastern Hungary during the war.

She received several prizes in Hungary, and her works have been published in 42 countries. In 2003, she was the winner of the French literary prize Prix Femina Étranger for the best foreign novel.

Her novel Abigél was popularized through a much-loved television series in 1978. Abigél was also chosen as the sixth most popular novel at the Hungarian version of Big Read. Her three other novels that were in the top 100 are Für Elise , An Old-Fashioned Story , and The Door .


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Goodreads rating: 4.08

Paperback, Published in Jan 2015 by NYRB Classics

ISBN10: 1590177711 | ISBN13: 9781590177716

Page count: 288

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.

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