An NYRB Classics Original
Like Magda Szabo's internationally acclaimed novel The Door , Iza's Ballad is a striking story of the relationship between two women, in this case a mother and a daughter. Read more...
An NYRB Classics Original
Like Magda Szabo's internationally acclaimed novel The Door, Iza's Ballad is a striking story of the relationship between two women, in this case a mother and a daughter. Ettie, the mother, is old and from an older world than the rapidly modernizing Communist Hungary of the years after World War II. From a poor family and without formal education, Ettie has devoted her life to the cause of her husband, Vince, a courageous magistrate who had been blacklisted for political reasons before the war. Iza, their daughter, is as brave and conscientious as her father: Active in the resistance against the Nazis, she is now a doctor and a force for progress. Iza lives and works in Budapest, and when Vince dies, she is quick to bring Ettie to the city to make sure her mother is close and can be cared for. She means to do everything right, and Ettie is eager to do everything to the satisfaction of the daughter she is so proud of. But good intentions aside, mother and daughter come from two different worlds and have different ideas of what it means to lead a good life. Though they struggle to accommodate each other, increasingly they misunderstand and hurt each other, and the distance between them widens into an abyss. . . .
- ISBN-13: 9781681370347
- ISBN-10: 1681370344
- Publisher: New York Review of Books
- Publish Date: October 2016
- Page Count: 352
- Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-08
- Reviewer: Staff
In this contemplative family narrative, Szabó (The Door) introduces us to Ettie, and her daughter, Iza, shortly after Ettie’s husband, Vince, dies. Set in Hungary in 1960, the novel follows housewife Ettie in the days and weeks after Vince’s death. Iza, a successful doctor, tries to comfort her mother by arranging everything, but her efforts to tidy up her father’s estate only further isolate Ettie. Iza sells the rural family home and brings her mother to live with her in the big city of Pest. There, with live-in help, Ettie has no chores to complete and no one to talk to. “Everything required for comfort was present and correct but she still felt as though she had been robbed.” The story jumps around in time as Ettie nostalgically recalls her many years with Vince. Ettie is also fond of Antal, Iza’s ex-husband, who purchases their old home in the village, and she worries that Iza will never find a suitable replacement. Antal, however, falls in love with Lidia, the young nurse who cared for Vince in his final days. A subdued and melancholy meditation on grief and mourning, Szabó’s novel is the work of a sophisticated storyteller who confronts how memories are constructed. (Oct.)