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Magda Szabó’s Novel ‘Abigail’ Published in English, Recommended by The New York Times

Fanni Kaszás 2020.01.28.

The English edition of Hungarian writer Magda Szabó’s novel ‘Abigail’ (Abigél) was published last week, and according to Hungarian cultural website Fidelio, even The New York Times has written a recommendation for the book, which was previously compared to the likes of Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling’s works.

Magda Szabó’s famous book was first published in 1970, and since then, has become one of the most popular books in the country, even adapted for the small screen as a television series, and the stage as a musical. According to The New York Times, ‘Abigail’ is even more popular than ‘The Door,’ published in 1987, which is the author’s best-known work abroad.

The article was published after the translation of the book came out on January 20, 2020 by Len Rix, who also worked on the British edition of ‘The Door’ in 2005, and translated Antal Szerb’s oeuvre into English as well.

The recommendation piece in The New York Times, with a slightly far-reaching title “A statue protects students from the Nazis,” says that “the English edition of Abigail was long overdue. Len Rix’s translation is skillful, but Szabó’s frank, conversational prose is overshadowed by the twisting plot. The novel holds its secrets through long pages, and the result of this magic trick is tight suspense.”

The article then focuses on the description of the plot, then closes with: “Abigail is both heart-wrenching and captivating at the same time, and this effect is only enhanced by the fact that we see events through Gina’s young simplicity and immature gaze. Nothing can ruin such a human novel, except by pulling away the mysteries that are at the heart of the book, especially the identity of Abigail. But to find out the truth, we need to ask Abigail herself.”

The New York Times is not the only one that pays tribute to the novel. Publishers Weekly recently compared the protagonist of ‘Abigail,’ the student Gina, to Jane Austen’s Emma, ​​while comparing some features of the plot to J.K. Rowling’s Harry’s Potter books.

featured photo: MTVA Archives