The Door by Magda Szabó, translated by Len Rix [in Library Journal]
Originally published in 1987, The Door is one of the few titles available in English by the late Magda Szabó (1917–2007), considered one of if not the most prominent Hungarian writer. The aural version makes its roundabout debut this year, after two Anglophone translations, in 1995 (by Stefan Draughon) and 2005 (by Len Rix), finally arriving stateside in 2015 and now narrated three years later by Siân Thomas.
The story seems simple: a writer and her husband hire a capable housekeeper to take care of the mundane details of their home lives. The reality, however, is a multilayered treatise about power, class, family, and secrets, all set against the backdrop of Hungary’s troubled political, socioeconomic, and cultural history.
Disturbing, raw, and brutally revealing, Szabó’s literary achievement is further enhanced by Thomas’s narration, utterly visceral, alternating between biting control and emotional outbursts so vivid as to almost see the tightly closed face and feel the flying spittle of desperate dialog. The result proves to be as exhausting as it is illuminating.
Verdict: Every global citizen with an interest in superb literary fiction will want to open this intriguing Door.
Published: 1987 (Hungary), 2017 (United States)