Emerence is a domestic servant - strong, fierce, eccentric, and with a reputation for being a first-rate housekeeper. When Magda, a young Hungarian writer, takes her on she never imagines how important this woman will become to her. It takes twenty years for a complex trust between them to be slowly, carefully built. But Emerence has secrets and vulnerabilities beneath her indomitable exterior which will test Magda's friendship and change the complexion of both their lives irreversibly.
'Szabó manages to conjure up as many cliffhangers as an Indiana Jones film. The Door is a triumph. Clever, moving, frightening, it deserves to be a bestseller' Tibor Fischer, Daily Telegraph
Magda Szabo (1917 2007) was born into an old Protestant family in Debrecen, Hungary s Calvinist Rome, in the midst of the great Hungarian plain. Szabo, 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, "Barany "(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 Szabo turned to writing fiction: her first novel, "Fresko" (Fresco), came out in 1958, followed closely by "Az oz" (The Fawn). In 1959 she won the Jozsef Attila Prize, after which she went on to write many more novels, among them "Katalin utca" (Katalin Street, 1969), "Okut" (The Ancient Well, 1970), "Regimodi tortenet "(An Old-Fashioned Tale, 1971), and" Az ajto" (The Door, 1987). Szabo 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 Szabo 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.""