Author: Magda Szabó
Translator: Len Rix
Publisher: NYRB Classics (2015)
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.
"I remember the feeling I had only a few pages in: that this was a voice unlike any I’d ever read—elevated, almost cold, but bristling with passion beneath the surface—and that the book was very, very good.”
“Beautifully translated by Len Rix . . . New York Review Books Classics—acting, yet again, in its capacity as the Savior of Lost Greats—has now delivered this version to an American audience. If you’ve felt that you’re reasonably familiar with the literary landscape, The Door will prompt you to reconsider. It’s astonishing that this masterpiece should have been essentially unknown to English-language readers for so long . . . suffice it to say that I’ve been haunted by this novel. Szabo’s lines and images come to my mind unexpectedly, and with them powerful emotions. It has altered the way I understand my own life. [It is] a work of stringent honesty and delicate subtlety.”
"The Door is a deeply strange and equally affecting book, a dark domestic fairy tale about the relationship between a Hungarian writer, Magda, and her taciturn elderly housekeeper, Emerence.”