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About the Author
Magda Szabo (1917-2007) was born into an old Protestant family in Debrecen, Hungary, 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).
Sian Thomas, actress and Earphones Award-winning audiobook narrator, was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for her role in Up for Grabs. She appeared as Amelia Bones in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Len Rix is a poet, critic, and former literature professor who has translated five books by Antal Szerb. In 2006 he was awarded the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for his translation of The Door by Magda Szabo.