Synopses & Reviews
“The Dog adopted the Ancsas in the spring of 48”: so the story begins. The Ancsas are a middle-aged couple living on the outskirts of Budapest in a ruinous Hungary that is just beginning to wake up from the nightmare of World War II. The new Communist government promises to set things straight, and Mr. Ancsa, an engineer, is as eager to get to work building the future as he is to forget the past. The last thing he has time for is a little mongrel bitch, pregnant with her first litter. But Niki knows better, and before long she is part of the Ancsa household. The Ancsas even take her along with them when Mr. Ancsas new job requires a move to an apartment in the city.
Then Mr. Ancsa is swept up in a political crackdown—disappearing without a trace. For five years he does not return, five years of absence, silence, fear, and the constant struggle to survive—ﬁve years during which Mrs. Ancsa and Niki have only each other.
The story of Niki, an ordinary dog, and the Ancsas, a no less ordinary couple, is an extraordinarily touching, utterly unsentimental, parable about caring, kindness, and the endurance of love.
About the Author
(1894-1977) was born in Budapest into a prosperous family of partly Jewish descent. In 1919, he joined the Communist Party and served in the ill-fated revolutionary government of Béla Kun, which collapsed before the end of the year. For much of the next fifteen years he lived in exile, returning to Hungary for good in 1935. Though initially well-regarded by Hungarys post-World War II Communist government, by 1953 Déry had been expelled from the party for his criticism of its increasingly repressive policies. He then supported Imre Nagys reformist government and, after the Soviet suppression of the 1956 uprising, was sentenced to nine years in prison. Writers around the world (including Camus, Sartre, E.M. Forster, Rebecca West, and Alberto Moravia) rallied on his behalf, and in 1960 Déry was not only granted amnesty but allowed to publish and travel in relative freedom. Among Dérys major works are Love and Other Stories
, the novel The Unfinished Sentence,
and an autobiography, No Verdict.
George Szirtes is a Hungarian-born English poet and translator. He received the T.S. Eliot Prize for Reel (2004), and his New and Collected Poems were published in 2008. As a translator of poetry and fiction he has won a variety of prizes and awards, including the European Poetry Translation Prize and, in fact, the Déry Prize.
Edward Hyams won the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses by Regine Pernoud.