Iza's Ballad

Iza's Ballad

Paperback - 2016
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From the author of The Door, selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2015 An NYRB Classics Original Like Magda Szabó'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.
Publisher: New York, NY : New York Review of Books, [2016]
ISBN: 9781681370347
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: xii, 327 pages ; 21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Szirtes, George 1948-- Translator


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Apr 17, 2017

I very much enjoyed The Door so was looking forward to reading this. While the style is excellent I was disappointed and grew impatient with the old woman and her lack of courage. Did not finish the book.

Mar 04, 2017

the story circles through the lives of Iza, Ettie, Vince and Antal bringing memories of the past into the present as their lives undergo the changes wrought by Vince's death. devotion challenges determination, love gives way to isolation, progress erases physical markers of the past as memory reaches for the old comforts that are no longer there.

tunes hummed, folk songs sung discomfit some while soothing others. open hearts can be stifled and smothered even by love and kindness.

as with Szabo's The Door - intergenerational misunderstanding is the nugget.

JCLMELODYK Feb 10, 2017

Iza is a loving, doting daughter who wants to care for her mother after the death of her father. This is a poignant story on the difficulties of love in practice.

manoush Sep 11, 2015

A beautiful, quietly devastating novel. Singularly focused on four main characters and written in a timeless, crystalline prose (surely also a testament to the poet translator's skill). At the heart of the novel is the loving relationship between two aged parents and their brilliant only child, Iza, though there's an uneasy undertow to their love that quietly builds up to a full revelation in the novel's very last pages. Midway through the novel, we get a compelling portrait of the orphan Antal, who marries Iza and joins the small family. Iza, the book's anchor and central pole, remains deliberately opaque until the very end. There the author delivers a devastating verdict that leaves the reader puzzling over why, in a novel that richly evokes the inner lives of three characters, the title character is left unfurled. The novel was first published in Hungarian under the title "Pilatus" in 1963.


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