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Katalin Street
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
"In preewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. A game is played by the four children in which Blint, the promising son of the Major, invariably chooses Irn Elekes, the headmaster's dutiful elder daughter, over her younger sister, the scatterbrained Blanka, and little Henriette Held, the daughter of the Jewish dentist. Their lives are torn apart in 1944 by the German occupation, which only the Elekes family survives intact. The postwar regime relocates them to a cramped Soviet-style apartment and they struggle to come to terms with social and political change, personal loss, and unstated feelings of guilt over the deportation of the Held parents and the death of little Henriette, who had been left in their protection. But the girl survives in a miasmal afterlife, and reappears at key moments as a mute witness to the inescapable power of past events."--Back cover.
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sarahbarnes
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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I had to miss the discussion yesterday, but I loved this beautiful book that shows how tragedy and devastating loss can change the trajectory of our lives forever. I‘m a fan of both books I‘ve read by this author now. Thanks for the great selection @GatheringBooks ❤️

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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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vivastory On a purely emotional level, I appreciated Iza's Ballad a bit more. Yet, KS does have great moments of emotional depth & a complexity that isn't quite present in IB. I loved them both. 3mo
GatheringBooks @vivastory i think you would love The Door even more - that was my introduction to Szabo. 3mo
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GatheringBooks Needless to say, I would read anything she writes, @vivastory 🤣🤣🤣📚📚📚 3mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks Really?! I'm convinced. I just bought a copy. I will def be reading it in the next month or so. 3mo
vivastory She is a new personal fave for sure. 3mo
merelybookish I skipped Iza's Ballad when we read it 🙈 so this was my first book by her. I was pretty blown away by it. There was such subtlety in the interplay between past and present and how we would gain insight into characters. So I would like to read more! But would be okay if they weren't all as sad as this one was. 3mo
Sapphire I think The Door is sadder, though more mundane. I will admit I suspect there is humor in the Door that I missed in translation. After reading The Door a few years back I didn‘t expect to read more of her, now having read this title- I plan to read Isza‘s Ballad 3mo
vivastory @merelybookish Well, if you don't want sad then you might want to wait to read IB. 😬 3mo
vivastory @Sapphire I'll be curious to hear what you think of Iza's Ballad. There are several themes in common between IB & KS. 3mo
merelybookish @vivastory For some reason, I had the impression IB was less tragic. But good to know one needs to be emotionally prepared to read her. 3mo
BarbaraBB Unfortunately I didn‘t read Katalin Street in time so I will get back to the discussion on a later moment. However I loved both The Door and Iza‘s Ballad, the latter being an alltime favorite! 3mo
LeahBergen I missed Iza‘s Ballad when the group read it so this is my first by this author. I‘m now a total fan! I have The Door waiting on my shelves and also Abigail. 👍 3mo
quietjenn Iza's Ballad was before I joined, but I'm planning to get it - and perhaps the Door as well! 3mo
Liz_M I've read The Door, Iza's Ballad, and Katalin Street. IB is by far my favorite. There was something about the structure and the story arc that just worked -- seeing Iza's story from multiple perspectives and the contrast between her past and the present. I thought KS was muddled and unclear as to time and characterization. As for TD, the narrator was too self-absorbed to show a complexity of story, I thought. 3mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB I think that you'd enjoy Katalin Street, but just a heads-up, press on until around or 40 or so & things click then! 3mo
vivastory @LeahBergen I'm really looking forward to reading The Door 3mo
BarbaraBB @vivastory I admit I didn‘t even get to page 40 but I will try again next month. I‘m sure I‘ll love it! 3mo
arubabookwoman I wasn't in the club for Iza's Ballad, but I have read it on my own. I have also read Abigail. I liked both of these books very much, but I think Katalin Street is my favorite. I have yet to read The Door. 3mo
batsy I liked Iza's Ballad a lot, but not much of it remains with me. This book however hit me like a ton of bricks, for some reason. Something about a tragic event having rippling and lasting effects on multiple lives and even a version of an afterlife that offers no comfort—it's very moving. I'm very much looking forward to The Door and any of her other works (I'm not sure how many there are in translation). 3mo
DrexEdit I've read The Door, Iza's Ballad, and now Katalin Street also. I think I would agree that Iza's Ballad is my favorite. It seemed more relatable to modern life, a bit sad, a bit bittersweet, but no major tragedies like war. I agree with @Liz_M that the narrator in The Door was a bit self-absorbed. 3mo
Sapphire It always strikes me as interesting how the book you read before a certain book can affect how you approach something. Right before I read the Door, I had been reading The Modern Library series that Ruth Reichel edited. Books about cooking. The Passover of the Lamb and Our Russian Cook. I think the light heartedness of these made me want something redeeming from the cleaner lady who runs the street in The Door. Something I might not have 3mo
Sapphire Been looking for, if I had come to it in a different sequence of reading. I did think the middle class lady who owned the house was self absorbed, and that was part of the point. 3mo
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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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vivastory I think that part of Iren's despair was due to her affection, not love, for Pali. There might also be am element that she has finally received what she has wanted for years but only after countless loss. Then there was the sense that she no longer felt the same way about Balint, or at least not as strongly. 3mo
merelybookish It felt like a kind of punishment, like they were still fated to be together, but in misery not in happiness. And maybe Iren doesn't believe she deserves happiness. 3mo
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GatheringBooks @merelybookish more like “miserably-ever-after” rather than “happily-ever-after.” The thought of anyone thinking they don‘t deserve happiness is achingly heartbreaking. 💔💔💔 3mo
merelybookish @GatheringBooks yes like they are doomed to complete the story, regardless of what it costs. 3mo
LeahBergen I thought just what @merelybookish said. Like Ines believed that being with Balint was inevitable and they somehow “owed” it to their shared past. 3mo
quietjenn @merelybookish @GatheringBooks yes, a sort of the fates have spoken and this is how the story ends. The air of inevitability. 3mo
youneverarrived It did have a sort of inevitably about it @quietjenn. And I agree with @vivastory it felt like part of the despair was because of how much had gone on in the intervening years; it felt like although she still had feelings for Balint they weren‘t the same feelings she had when she was younger. 3mo
Liz_M Iren was making a clear choice between a future with a man that was good with her but that would have required breaking with the past. She choose her past, her family, and childhood love. 3mo
arubabookwoman I think that had Balint wanted to marry Iren as soon as he returned from the camp, things might have been different. Instead he had all the pointless affairs at the hospital etc. In a sense, I think Iren agreed to marry him when he finally said he was ready to marry her out of a sense of obligation. I don't know if this was in the book or I'm just making it up based on my own prejudices, but I think Balint had a huge ego and was👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 3mo
arubabookwoman ....unreasonable to expect Iren to drop everything and marry him because he was finally ready. 3mo
GatheringBooks @arubabookwoman AMEN! I disliked Balint most of all in the book. So entitled. 3mo
batsy I agree that Iren probably felt like she deserved no happiness, but she was also single-minded. Like she says that she wasn't looking for a perpetual funfair in life, she wanted only Balint & something that he brought with him—"that inner silence for which, as a child, I had no name for but deeply longed". She thinks being good, clever, & hardworking will get her Balint—and presumably the inner silence that to her appears like a kind of freedom. 3mo
youneverarrived @Liz_M that‘s a great point. I do think part of it was she was so attached to the past. 3mo
GatheringBooks @batsy that is so beautifully said. A silence that is longed for and provides a sense of freedom - I wonder, though, if she did find it. Or whether that longed for silence will only find her when she is reunited not with Balint but with her long-lost sister. 💔 3mo
batsy @GatheringBooks Oh! That does tug at my heart 💔 3mo
28 likes16 comments
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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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vivastory I initially found this aspect of the narrative disorienting, but once I got my bearings it really added several layers to the story. It reads not like a ghost story but like a story with a ghost, where all of the characters are haunted not by Henriette, but their histories with a small & capital H. The way Szabo managed it was brilliant IMO. 3mo
merelybookish @vivastory I like how you said that! It took a bit to understand she was a ghost but then I liked having her perspective, although it was also heartbreaking. It did take the narrative to another level. But maybe made all the lives of the living less sad, knowing they continued to be loved and seen, even if they didn't know it. 3mo
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Sapphire It took me a while to realize Henriette was a ghost. I sort of wished the story had been more directly from her point of view, but then we would have missed Iren‘s misery because she defined her life by the social order of the group of kids as much as she did her guilt over the events of that day. She thought her wedding day put her on top. H even as a ghost retained a childlike perception of the people she watched. (edited) 3mo
Sapphire @vivastory agree! 3mo
vivastory @merelybookish Henriette's perspective was one element that I found really interesting for the reasons that you mention. The passage at the end when she approaches Balint. 💔 💔 3mo
vivastory @Sapphire I think it was really wise of Szabo to keep Henrietta at the same age as a ghost, rather than fluctuating in age. It really allowed for an interesting POV. 3mo
Sapphire @merelybookish Good point. I do think the idea of the value and importance of “being seen” runs through this book though I hadn‘t thought of it. Each character wants to be seen in. Some way differently than the others see them. That drives their initial actions as well as later ones. Even Pali. 3mo
Sapphire @vivastory yes, - the layers as you said. She adds the melancholy tone of the story too, which I think makes this book an important part of holocaust literature. Although I don‘t think this book is about the holocaust really at all. It‘s more just the plot device for how we each interpret our roles in trashed, our roles in family, and our roles in larger society. 3mo
vivastory @Sapphire I agree with your comment that it's not about the holocaust. I have read only 2 works by Szabo & they both had the melancholy tone that you mention. It's a really mesmerizing & interesting style. 3mo
LeahBergen I found the notion of the ghosts in the afterlife returning to their childhood mindset around their parents somehow so … I don‘t know… disturbing? 😆😆 3mo
quietjenn I found it to be such an interesting and poignant take on the afterlife - both comforting and a little heartbreaking. 3mo
quietjenn @vivastory and then when Balint observes that he wasn't interested, but couldn't send her away because she reminded him so much of someone he once loved 😩 (edited) 3mo
youneverarrived That encounter felt so sad to me. I‘m with the rest of you in that it took a while to get my bearings, I had to go & read the synopsis again (I think without it I wouldn‘t have known she was a ghost at first). 3mo
Liz_M I like the concept of Henrietta as a ghost observing and adding a different perspective (similar to Lincoln in the Bardo), but it didn't work at all for me here, I thought the execution was unclear. I was never oriented to whether a particular scene was “real“ or Henrietta's afterlife recreation or a combination or both or something else. 3mo
vivastory @quietjenn That scene for me was the second most emotionally devastating one, right behind Blanka telling Iren she boarded up the fence 😭 3mo
arubabookwoman I loved the added dimension Henriette's ghost provided to the story (and there have been books that I really disliked having a ghost character, thinking of Sing, Unburied Sing). @LeahBergen I loved that Henriette saw the other characters at all ages, and was amused by her seeing her parents reverting to their childhood selves, and how much that annoyed her. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to see your mom or dad as a kindergartner? 3mo
batsy Like @LeahBergen I found the vision of the afterlife somewhat disturbing and quite heartbreaking. The way that this condition of childhood that they returned to means Henriette's parents couldn't behave as parents like they always did. "It was the first time since her childhood that they had failed to give her advice"—and Henriette found it so disorienting that she stopped actively seeking them out. So sad! 3mo
batsy That scene with Balint was so sad. That he could not see her for who she was, and that she would never know how he thought about her, that he thought the person he thought was a random girl was "so like someone he had once loved, loved probably more than anyone in his life" and it's her, it's Henriette. So devastating ? 3mo
Sapphire I did think the aspect that the departed change in age based on relationship to the interaction was unique. I had not seen that explored in just that way before. The idea that the goths could just imagine.a different memory and inhabit it was oddly disturbing, while it appeared comforting to the character 3mo
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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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vivastory This is a tough question. I think (or at least my remaining optimism) that most people lean towards Mr. Elekes. They have viewpoints on issues, but these can be reformed when they see people they care about harmed. I found the Major really interesting because he wasn't interested in the glory attached to being a soldier & it seems like later on Balint came to feel the same despite idolizing him when he was younger. 3mo
GatheringBooks @vivastory given what is currently happening right now with russia‘s encroachment on ukrainian soil, this question about one‘s moral compass and where it points towards becomes even more germane, I think. Will we be a Mr Elekes or a Major? 3mo
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vivastory @GatheringBooks Exactly. Well said. 3mo
merelybookish Mr Elkes seems like a rule-based morality and having a trust in institutions. He would not be a proponent of John Lewis's "good trouble." What little we get to know of the Major, he seems more skeptical of authority and institutions. And willing to use his power to aid people with less privilege. 3mo
vivastory @merelybookish It made me laugh when it talked about Mr. Elekes being physically ill & having to leave the room if he heard profanity. This seemed to say something about his moral character. 3mo
merelybookish @vivastory Haha. Yes isn't he described as priggish at some point? 3mo
vivastory @merelybookish I forgot about that, but I think he was. And Iren at the end admits that she has turned into her father.. 3mo
LeahBergen Mr Elekes was so upright and moral but ultimately so ineffectual, wasn‘t he? 3mo
quietjenn @merelybookish exactly! I actually wish we'd gotten to see a bit more of the Major. 3mo
vivastory @LeahBergen Moral but ineffectual. Well said. I think it is easy to have strong moral outlooks & opinions when someone has not been put in situations that challenges their morality &/or threatens their personal safety. 3mo
arubabookwoman I think Mr. Elekes had an "Ivory Tower" morality. On an intellectual level, and as a matter of principles he was moral. In the real world, however, he had difficulty acting on those principles. (Although he could take a very strong "moral" stand and kick Blanka out of the house when she did something he considered immoral). 3mo
batsy @LeahBergen Well put! That's exactly how I felt about him. And also felt a little bit called out, because for all his reading beneath the bust of Cicero and having ideals and principles in theory, it didn't amount to much in the real world where agonising decisions had to be made. 3mo
Sapphire I thought it was interesting that Blanka ended up with the Bust of Cicero 3mo
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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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vivastory I honestly was a bit skeptical of what Iren said regarding her feelings for Blanka later on in the book. There is a passage where she confesses that she has always loved her more than anyone else, even Balint. I wasn't completely convinced. For me this really added to their complex relationship. Their complex relationship is one of the reasons I had to sit with this book a few days in my mind before I could try to post about it, 3mo
Sapphire I wondered if Blanka had Down syndrome in the growing up passages. But that seemed negated in her married years where she was portrayed more as sweet and simple. Everyone on Katalin street feeling justified at slapping Blanka bothered me. 3mo
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Sapphire The fact that it was the argument with Iren that spurred Blanka to “fix” up the garden and this trap Henrietta made me feel that Iren‘s feelings for Blanka were shrouded in her own guilt. That is why I think Iren narrates most of all. Each of the characters have their own culpability, even as the war was not their fault. But their passions and search to be best in each other‘s affections facilitated the string of misunderstandings. 3mo
Sapphire Even Balint and the major keeping the truth of the danger the helds were in felt to me like it wasn‘t just required secrecy but also part of the emotional manipulation happening between the families. 3mo
GatheringBooks @vivastory I think to some degree, I can understand why Iren would say this. I think one can hate as fiercely as one loves - and that is definitely true of the sisters. 3mo
merelybookish @Sapphire I wondered that too a bit. Or what they meant by "simple". There were many intriguing moments between them. Their desire to protect each other always seems to cost them. Iren doesn't tell Balint that Blanka nailed the fence boards shut (which maybe creates a wall between them). Then when Blanka punishes Balint for hurting Iren by accusing him of a crime -- which eventually leads to her rejection by the family. 3mo
Sapphire @merelybookish the fence imagery is interesting to think about. Lots of metaphorical fences in this novel 3mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks I could see that. I wasn't convinced by her statement, but as someone with siblings I did believe her to a certain degree. 3mo
quietjenn @vivastory @GatheringBooks I can understand the skepticism, but I think part of it comes from Iren being so reserved in showing her emotions. On the flip side, I've no trouble believing that Blanka loved Iren more than anyone else. 3mo
LeahBergen I found the bit where Blanka slips her messy, torn ‘good conduct‘ slips in with Ines‘ so moving! 3mo
quietjenn @merelybookish @Sapphire I think Blanka's view of the world is very simple and perhaps childlike, in the sense that a) things (/people/events) are good or bad and b) there isn't any thought about consequences or nuance. Iren wants to be star pupil - give her your gold cards. Balint is sad - comfort him. Balint hurt Iren - get him in trouble. Those girls at the office mean to you - accuse them too. 3mo
youneverarrived I think Blanka showed her love for Iren in ways that she thought would help Iren but actually caused more harm - the certificates she puts in her bag, tidying up the garden, getting rid of Balint. Like @quietjenn said, quite childlike in some ways. The bond between them was vivid but their personalities were very contrasting which was interesting. 3mo
vivastory @LeahBergen I found that scene moving as well, although in the later context of the novel it was a little troubling 3mo
vivastory @quietjenn I agree about Blanka loving Iren more. What is interesting to me is the ways that her love sometimes manifested as she tried to please Iren with terrible decisions. She seemed desperate to please her. 3mo
vivastory @youneverarrived I completely agree with your point. Blanka was so desperate to please Iren that she often either didn't stop to think of the consequences, or they were secondary to her being in Iren's good graces. It's interesting to wonder how reserved Iren was vs. how much she might have been withholding affection towards Blanka in order to manipulate her. 3mo
arubabookwoman Iren was always so careful and wanted to do the "correct" thing, while Blanka was impulsive and acted from her heart, for better or worse, without considering the consequences. More than once her actions were misconstrued by Iren or others, or actually were severely harmful (nailing the loose fence shut). I particularly liked Blanka giving Iren her good conduct commendations. 3mo
arubabookwoman @vivastory I don't think Iren was trying to manipulate Blanka, but I do think she was in competition with Blanka for her parents' love. She long recognized that Blanka was her mother's favorite, and I think she was particularly devastated to realize Blanka was also her father's favorite. 3mo
GatheringBooks @arubabookwoman indeed! Add the fact that Iren strived so hard to be the perfect child. I also wonder about Iren‘s angry outbursts that the entire family tolerates because they are few & far between, & to some extent expected. I think that is the only avenue for Iren to really just let go of everything, scream her lungs out, release her pent up frustration/pain with her sister being gone. I think it is more yearning for Blanka than anything else. 3mo
batsy I agree @GatheringBooks I think love between sisters can be so fierce/difficult. I felt like the balance of power between older and younger sisters was perfectly observed here and it's that incident with the commendation cards that stands out. Blanka in her naive innocence wanted to help her sister and win her love and bungled it, and to Iren though she could recognise the intention it still filled her with anger and maybe the futility of it all. 3mo
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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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#NYRBBookClub Q1 of 6.

vivastory One of the moments for Balint is def. the play that is organized by Mr. Elekes in the major's honor. It was def a pivotal scene, even if Szabo tells us that none of the other characters other than Balint would recall it later in life. For Iren, receiving commendation cards that she hadn't earned was another pivotal moment. There's an interesting echo of it later in the novel when Mr. Elekes & her receive an award & she discovers afterwards that 3mo
vivastory Blanka helped make it happen. The discussion has started @sapphire but feel free to weigh in when is convenient for you. (edited) 3mo
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Sapphire One pivotal moment for me captured how our identity or sense of identity affects these moments was near the end. When Iren leaves a happy marriage to remarry Balint even though she no longer believes they are soul mates, it resonates on how people make choices that fit their narrative even when they purport to want something different. Iren‘s identity still revolves around jockeying for her place in the affections of Katalin 3mo
merelybookish The back garden where the children played and then where Henriette is killed and then where she returns to again and again in the final chapter. A place of such innocence and then of its loss. 3mo
GatheringBooks @vivastory i remember that scene vividly, too. Turns our Balint is not the only one who remembers it, I think. Henriette had that burned in her mind too. May be that pivotal moment for all three female characters (Blanka, Henriette, and Iren) when they all fell more or less in love with Balint. 3mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks Yes, it did seem to be pivotal for all 4 of them. On the surface it seemed somewhat minor, but it def shaped them. 3mo
vivastory @Sapphire This is a great point. I agree. I do think that one of the primary reasons Iren chose Balint in the end was because it was part of her narrative in her head, even if long delayed. 3mo
youneverarrived @merelybookish I was going to say the same. The game they played seemed to hold a lot of meaning for Henriette; like you say, such innocence and then a place of loss that stays with all of the characters. 3mo
youneverarrived And I loved this line. I think it‘s true. It‘s not always the big moments that you think will leave an impact either. 3mo
quietjenn I think everyone has identified the moments that I would point to - the play, playing Cherry Tree in the garden, when Henriette is killed there. Although I would maybe expand them to say the entire day those things happened? The entire scene of the Held's first coming to Katalin Street; the actions that lead up to Henriette's death and interactions between characters that follow. 3mo
quietjenn Others that seemed key - the initial day of engagement (and when the Helds are taken) and when Blanka accuses Balint. For places, I'd add Blanka's apartment, which Balint takes over. 3mo
quietjenn @youneverarrived those first two pages just had so much wisdom and resonance. 3mo
LeahBergen Those first few pages were so powerful and even more so when I reread them immediately upon finishing the novel. 3mo
vivastory @LeahBergen Yes, as others mentioned I also immediately reread the opening pages after finishing. 3mo
Liz_M I'm not sure if we're ever shown a scene for why this particular location mattered, but the father's desk with the bust is recreated in the apartment (used by Irene) and I think Blanka also recreates the idea of it in her island home. 3mo
arubabookwoman I agree with all the moments mentioned so far as pivotal. One further moment/event is when Balint goes to the museum where Iren is on a class trip with her students to tell her he's ready to marry her. Iren begins to cry; she knows she will leave her husband and marry Balint even though she also knows it may not be the best choice. 3mo
arubabookwoman Just wanted to add that I'm sorry for chiming in so late here, we had a family thing most of the day. I really loved this book (once I got into it--I was very confused in the beginning), and I'm so glad it was chosen! 3mo
GatheringBooks @arubabookwoman yes!!! That museum scene was so poignant. What a proposal, indeed, to render one so miserable and helpless in saying yes, because saying no is unthinkable. 3mo
batsy I agree with @vivastory I think the play was one of those moments. Although it's rarely something that comes up in other people's memories, I feel like a lot of how they came to see themselves and each other (rightly or wrongly) crystallised during the staging of the play. And going by the title I think the street itself, the garden, the places that are most memorable are where we grew up as kids—and the tragedy that occurred there. 3mo
GatheringBooks @batsy there is something about the places where we grew up in that would forever remain indelible in our consciousness, I think, regardless of where life takes us. 💕 3mo
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review
vivastory
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

It was around the 40 page mark or so that the floating narrative threads of Katalin Street settled into place, allowing glimpses of the larger picture. Relayed in multiple sections, many narrated from the POV of Irén Elekes, yet it seems to me that Henriette is the true protagonist of KS. In Budapest, three neighboring families (the Elekes, the Helds & the Major) reside on the titular street in interwar years & the years of the German occupation👇

vivastory A tragedy occurs that ripples outwards for decades. Henriette Held is a spirit who is able to move between time & place, often revisiting her beloved Katalin Street. We witness the lives of her childhood friends Irén, Blanca & Bálint as they continue to be haunted by history in a multilayered & powerful work that offers no easy solutions. #NYRBBookClub @gatheringbooks (edited) 3mo
youneverarrived Brilliant review. Agree that Henriette is the real protagonist. Interesting that the author chose to write mostly from the point of view of Iren. 3mo
68 likes2 comments
review
Leftcoastzen
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

#NYRBBookClub I was very moved by this tale of neighbors who seemed content & intertwined before World War II .War will reshape their world forever, some will not survive & those who do will feel the altered world of occupation.
You feel their hopes & aspirations, share their memories of a world that no longer exists.As I was reading this I was overwhelmed thinking about families & neighbors,experiencing this right now , in Ukraine.Great pick .

GatheringBooks I know exactly what you mean. Looking forward to our discussion in a few hours‘ time. 📚📚📚 3mo
batsy Particularly poignant to read it this week 💔 3mo
vivastory Great review & this def resonated strongly considering current events 💔 3mo
Sapphire @batsy so true 3mo
58 likes4 comments
review
quietjenn
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

Compelling and beautifully written, with deep things to say about the nature of life - how we are shaped and defined by our memories of experiences as much as the events themselves. Bleak, but not hopeless, just matter of fact. I'll definitely be seeking out more by Szabo. #nyrbbookclub

Tamra I have this TBR, sounds like from your review I need to get a copy soon! (edited) 3mo
arubabookwoman I loved it too! 3mo
vivastory I will also be reading more. She's a new fave. I loved the other Szabo that out group read 3mo
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quietjenn @Tamra I think it is well worth the time! 3mo
quietjenn @arubabookwoman Yay! I'm so glad it was chosen, as I'm not sure I'd have ever picked it up on my own. 3mo
quietjenn @vivastory I just might have to pick that one up, the next time I go on an NYRB binge. I do own at least one other (tagged) so that will probably be the one I try next (although who knows when I will get to it). 3mo
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review
youneverarrived
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

A bleak and quiet sort of novel that speaks about the ways in which lives are changed during war and the aftermath of it. The sense of community and family was palpable. The ghost character of Henriette shows how much people, events and memories stay with us. It was beautifully told and I liked it a lot, although I didn‘t find it overly immersive. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ #nyrbbookclub

squirrelbrain Great review Katie. How are you doing? 😘 3mo
youneverarrived @squirrelbrain thank you! ♥️ I‘m really good, maternity leave starts early April so looking forward to that! How are you? 3mo
squirrelbrain So your due date is some time in April then? Exciting! 3mo
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GatheringBooks Happy to see you liked it! Looking forward to our discussion in a few hours. Happy infanticipating!! 3mo
vivastory I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one 3mo
youneverarrived @squirrelbrain it‘s not until 20th June but I‘m taking a few weeks holiday before I officially start maternity, just so I can get a few things organised before baby arrives 🤍 3mo
youneverarrived @GatheringBooks looking forward to it too! Thank you ♥️ 3mo
youneverarrived @vivastory I think it will be one made even better by discussing it 3mo
squirrelbrain That‘s a good idea Katie - it‘ll be even more work (and fun!) with two! 3mo
youneverarrived @squirrelbrain oh definitely 😆 I‘m getting in all the reading time while I can! 3mo
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review
batsy
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

This was a cryptic read at the start; it was a little hard to get my bearings. Then the story began to take shape & the characters became alive. When I finished I went right back to the beginning & to re-read Blanka's chapter. It's an incredibly sad story; just quietly devastating. There's no easy hope being peddled here, no redemption. Just the grim realities of lives upended from war & occupation & the steep costs of living 💔 #nyrbbookclub

youneverarrived It took me a while to get my bearings at the start too, and I went back and read Blankas chapter at the end 🤍 3mo
batsy @youneverarrived Yes, it somehow feels like coming full circle to go back and read that chapter. But even more heartbreaking. 3mo
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merelybookish Beautifully said. No hope or redemption. This is a beautifully told story but it isn't meant to reassure you. 3mo
vivastory Wonderfully stated. Szabo really is great at these narratives that don't soften difficult realities. 3mo
Leftcoastzen Great review. I‘m not done yet , it‘s intense. 3mo
sprainedbrain I did the same thing… right back to the beginning when I finished. 💔 3mo
batsy @merelybookish Thank you! I appreciated the total lack of sentimentality even while she could depict how important these people were to each other. 3mo
batsy @vivastory Thanks! I'm really keen to read The Door at some point. 3mo
batsy @Leftcoastzen Thank you! Intense sums it up. 3mo
batsy @sprainedbrain I'm intrigued to hear that some of us did the same! Somehow it invites us to go back to the beginning. 3mo
arubabookwoman I did the sane (back to reread the beginning after finishing the book). I loved it! (edited) 3mo
GatheringBooks Love all the comments here - they all reflect exactly how I feel about the book. Looking forward to our Litsy book party discussion in a few! I know it‘s a bit late for you, @batsy time wise, but really keen to hear your thoughts once you find the time. 💕💕💕 3mo
batsy @arubabookwoman It's pretty brilliantly structured. I loved it too. 3mo
batsy @GatheringBooks Thank you! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's thoughts, as well. I might get to it late but I hope to join in when I can 💜 3mo
vivastory I def plan on reading both The Door & Abigail. She's a new favorite for me. 3mo
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merelybookish
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

This book examines the fallout of WWII & years of Soviet occupation on three households on an idyllic street in Budapest. It is beautifully written & very sad. It does not shrink from the truth that one horrible event can haunt people forever. That's a simplistic description of a nuanced novel about complicated truths. Reading it in light of what's happening in the Ukraine felt particularly poignant. 😞
@vivastory @GatheringBooks #nyrbbookclub

Tamra 😑 3mo
batsy Great review. I was thinking the same. I finished it the night before Ukraine was invaded and just felt a terrible sadness. 3mo
merelybookish @batsy Yes. I kept thinking there's people's in houses on a street in Kviv whose lives are being irrevocably changed. 3mo
GatheringBooks Gosh, indeed, who would have thought that historical fiction novels such as this one will become “contemporary” yet again? 3mo
vivastory I'm looking forward to the discussion. A powerful, layered novel. 3mo
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LeahBergen
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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And here I go with this month‘s #NYRBBookClub pick (my first read by this author).

batsy I'm about halfway through and it's really sad 😞 3mo
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review
sprainedbrain
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

Such beautiful writing, and such an incredibly dark, depressing story. I missed reading Iza‘s Ballad with the #NYRBBookClub a couple of years ago, but I definitely need to read more from this author. Looking forward to the discussion next weekend.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

vivastory I'm glad you liked this one! I really enjoyed it & am looking forward to the discussion. I think you'd really enjoy Iza's Ballad. 💔 3mo
BarbaraBB I loved Iza but I couldn‘t get into this one. I will definitely read it in the near future but I felt too restless to concentrate on Katalin Street right now. 3mo
GatheringBooks Such lyrical prose even with such a dark theme, right? Truly looking forward to our discussion in a few hours. 💕💕💕📚📚📚 3mo
86 likes3 comments
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readordierachel
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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This weekend, I've been reading the two pictured books, and a couple of stories by Rebecca Roanhorse for class. All good! #weekendreading

vivastory I hope you are enjoying the Szabo 👍 3mo
Addison_Reads Thanks for sharing. 💚 Happy Reading! 3mo
See All 7 Comments
readordierachel @vivastory I am! I read The Door and remember liking it, but it was a while ago. This is making me want to revisit it. 3mo
sarahbarnes I read Black Sun by Roanhorse and liked it. And I‘m really liking Katalin Street so far, too. I liked The Door a lot as well. 3mo
readordierachel @sarahbarnes I just picked up a copy of Black Sun not too long ago. Looking forward to it! 3mo
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BarbaraBB
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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#BookReport 06/22 #WeeklyForecast 07/22

A combined book report and forecast. I just finished To Paradise so I have at last read two books during the past week. Next week will be filled with books for #ReadingAfrica2022, #NYRBBookclub, and #ToB22 buy first I have to read We Slaves of Surinam for my new bookclub. A tough one about my country‘s infamous past.

vivastory Hope you like Katalin Street! 3mo
BarbaraBB @vivastory I have high hopes of course! 3mo
Suet624 Enjoy!! 3mo
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vivastory
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Magda Szabó's Iza's Ballad was a #NYRBBookClub favorite when it was read & discussed in March 2020. In fact, this is the first time that the group has selected a work by an author that we have previously read. How does Katalin Street compare to Iza's Ballad? Join @gatheringbooks & I on 2-27 @ 19:00 UAE as we discuss. Also, I know that you were tagged, but just a reminder that voting is still ongoing for the April selection.

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review
Sapphire
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
Pickpick

I find this a much more engaging book than The Door, which I read by Szabo in the past. It‘s hard to say enjoy for a book like this, but I feel more developed as a reader and as a person for having encountered these characters and their lives and reactions to the horrors they endured. #nyrbbookclub

BarbaraBB Looking forward to it! I especially loved 3mo
Sapphire I just read the description of Izas Ballad and now I must read that one too! 3mo
vivastory Wonderful review! I hope you join the discussion on 2-27! 3mo
See All 7 Comments
Sapphire @vivastory I would like to! 3mo
Sapphire @vivastory can you tag me or do I tag myself? I have not participated in a group discussion on litsy before but I read this in order to be able to 3mo
vivastory We will add you to the list of people to tag 👍 3mo
Sapphire @vivastory thanks! 3mo
17 likes7 comments
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Sapphire
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo

It is always the most inexplicable things that make us lose self-control.

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The_Penniless_Author
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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#wondrouswednesday @Eggs

1. Tagged. Not necessarily the next one I'll read, but it is at the top 🙂
2. No. Still working on stuff published 20+ years ago 😂
3. The Pillars of the Earth

TheSpineView Loved The Pillars of the Earth! 4mo
The_Penniless_Author @TheSpineView I love it too, but it's taken me a month to get just past the halfway mark. Last year I would have finished it already. Maybe this is not my year for chunksters 🤔 4mo
RaeLovesToRead I'm also working my way through the literary ages 😄 It's only been since joining Litsy that I've started wanting books hot off the press... I blame all the pictures of lovely new books 😊 4mo
See All 7 Comments
The_Penniless_Author @RaeLovesToRead Same. Litsy's the only reason I know most newer books exist. But I also find a lot of older books here too that I never heard of before, and that's what I usually end up choosing 😅 4mo
RaeLovesToRead Ha! Yes! Just give us ALL THE BOOKS!! 😁 4mo
Eggs Thanks for joining in 🥰📚🥳 4mo
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Sapphire
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo

“THE PROCESS of growing old bears little resemblance to the way it is presented, either in novels or in works of medical science.” #greatfirstlines #nyrbbookclub

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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Getting ready for our upcoming #NYRBBookClub title for February. Paired with burrata salad with pomegranate seeds, peach slices, dry figs, kale leaves, focaccia bread, walnuts and all yumminess.

Tamra Serious yum! 4mo
DrexEdit Those are some beautifully poached eggs! 😋 4mo
SRWCF So healthy looking! 4mo
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GatheringBooks @DrexEdit it‘s actually burrata cheese! 💕💕💕 4mo
DrexEdit Cheese!!? Even better! 😄🧀🧀💜😋 4mo
BookBabe Looks yummy. What does #NYRBBookClub stand for? 4mo
sarahbarnes Looking forward to this one! 4mo
BarbaraBB Looking forward to the book! 4mo
vivastory Looking forward to co-hosting with you again! Iza's Ballad remains a favorite. 4mo
GatheringBooks @BookBabe it‘s a book club that @vivastory started nearly two years back! One of the most engaged and fun book groups here on Litsy. 💕 4mo
BookBabe Sounds nice…What do the letters stand for? 4mo
GatheringBooks @BookBabe nyrb is a publisher: new york review of books - https://www.nyrb.com 4mo
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vivastory
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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In a #NYRBBookClub first we will be reading a selection by an author that we have previously read. Szabó, author of numerous works including the aforementioned powerful Iza's Ballad, will be our February 2022 selection with Katalin Street. Join @GatheringBooks & I as we read & discuss the work selected for the 2018 PEN Translation Prize.

BarbaraBB Very happy with this choice! 5mo
LeahBergen Oh, good! I missed Iza‘s Ballad so this will be my first by this author. 👍 5mo
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vivastory @BarbaraBB I would have been happy with any of the selections, but I've always meant to read more Szabó since our discussion 5mo
vivastory @LeahBergen It was great! Highly recommend 5mo
GatheringBooks Woohoo! Glad to be co-hosting the Szabo selections with you, dear Scott. Hope things are a bit better on your end now. 💕📚💕🧚🏻‍♀️ 5mo
emilyhaldi Great! Looking forward to this one 🙂 5mo
BarbaraBB I loved Iza‘s Ballad so much! 5mo
vivastory @GatheringBooks Looking forward to co-hosting 👏 5mo
vivastory @emilyhaldi Same here! 5mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB One of my favorites 5mo
sisilia I read this 2 years ago and loved it. Just get a box of tissue ready 🥲 Len Rix‘s translation is amazing; he also won a prize for The Door, I think. Well deserved! 5mo
vivastory @sisilia Iza's Ballad was emotionally difficult, but definitely worth it. I was wondering how her other books compared. Looking forward to it 5mo
Reviewsbylola This sounds fantastic! 5mo
vivastory @Reviewsbylola Iza's Ballad seems to have been a group favorite. Really looking forward to reading more of her work 5mo
Sapphire I have read The Door by this author. If this has the same feel, February couldn‘t be a better match! Hoping to join you all. I am still learning how to navigate Litsy group reads. 4mo
vivastory @Sapphire Yes, please feel free to join! We haven't announced a date but it will definitely be a weekend & will be towards the end of February. 4mo
59 likes17 comments
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GatheringBooks
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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See All 25 Comments
GatheringBooks All three novels are written by female authors and are translated into English from other languages: French, Hungarian, and Chinese language (not sure whether “Love in A Fallen City” was written in Mandarin or Cantonese). 5mo
sarahbarnes Great selections! I chose 5mo
batsy Some interesting choices! My vote is for 5mo
merelybookish These do sound great! I'm voting for 5mo
quietjenn Oh, what interesting options! I vote for 5mo
mklong Ooh what interesting choices, I vote 5mo
emilyhaldi I‘ll vote 🤗 5mo
LeahBergen I‘ll pick the one I own 😄 5mo
BarbaraBB Great explanation why you chose these three! I can‘t resist Szabo so my vote is for 5mo
Billypar I want to read all three, so I can't lose! But I'll go with 5mo
catebutler My vote is for 5mo
youneverarrived I‘ve read Love in a Fallen City and enjoyed it! My vote is for 5mo
Liz_M I want to vote for all three! 5mo
arubabookwoman I vote for #KatalinStreet (if it's mot too late to vote). 5mo
GatheringBooks @daena @sprainedbrain @KVanRead @Leftcoastzen @readordierachel @saresmoore @Reviewsbylola @Tanisha_A @Theaelizabet - hello you all! Here‘s hoping you can choose your feb pick in this selection of #nyrbbookclub titles here 💕📚🧚🏻‍♀️ 5mo
GatheringBooks @vivastory - do you get to choose too? Or will you serve as the tie breaker for close votes? 💕🥰🧚🏻‍♀️📚 5mo
Leftcoastzen Gaak ! I voted in my brain but didn‘t post😳I plead holiday brain 5mo
vivastory For some reason I didn't get your notification until now!! 😬Let me see... 5mo
vivastory Great choices BTW 📚📚📚 5mo
Reviewsbylola My bad for missing the vote! Great choices! 5mo
39 likes25 comments
review
charl08
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
Pickpick

I'm normally on the fence about magical realism but I loved the way Szabó used it here to show how memories of the war dead lingered with survivors long after the war. Henriette is a benign ghost, but the lives of the others on Katalin Street never recover. The headmaster loses his faith in rules, his daughter her trust in her fiancee, and the young doctor his ability to plan, to try for the future.

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charl08
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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She had no house, no home, no family...

Henriette lives on Katalin Street with two other families. In 1944 her parents are deported and she is in hiding.

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charl08
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Coordinating my reading with my trousers.

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LeahBergen
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Well, it would appear that these streets DO have names. 😉 #PromptFail

#WhereTheStreetsHaveNoName
#WanderingJune

#PersephoneBooks
#NYRB

rockpools 🤣🤣🤣 3y
Blaire 🤣😂🤣perfection 3y
BiblioLitten 😁😁😁 3y
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TrishB 👍🏻👍🏻 3y
Ruthiella Well done!😀 3y
rubyslippersreads 😹😹😹 3y
emilyhaldi LOL. I loved Greenery Street 💕 3y
erzascarletbookgasm 😄 but that‘s perfect! 3y
BarbaraBB Persephone and NYRB. Of course 🙌 3y
LeahBergen @BarbaraBB I was just wondering how many of this month‘s prompts I could do with a Persephone or an NYRB that I own. 😆😆 3y
BarbaraBB The next month as well probably 😀 3y
Reviewsbylola 🥰🥰🥰 3y
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sisilia
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” said L.P. Hartley in his opening for The Go-Between. No matter how hard we try not to live in the past, it shaped who we are and how we live in the present. Szabo‘s characters are so in love with each other; & as we know, those who love us the most hurt us the deepest. The pain stays forever, & moving on is an impossible, uphill task. Another excellent read from Szabo! 5⭐️

GatheringBooks i am loving the look of that NYRB shelf!!! awesome collection. i love szabo and own a copy of this title which i hope to read by end of year. does it have female/women issues i can unpack/explore for our #WomenReadWomen2019 theme? 3y
sisilia @GatheringBooks Thank you! ☺️ I‘m not sure that it has enough of women issues; more of political angle of wartime Hungary.. I think 3y
GatheringBooks @sisilia Ah. Good to know that. I remember The Door being replete with female issues, so I had hoped this one will have that as a theme, too. :( 3y
See All 6 Comments
sisilia @GatheringBooks Try True Deceiver by Tove Jansson.... an excellent book, similar setting as The Door 3y
emilyhaldi Loving this peek at your NYRB shelf 😍 somehow i don‘t have any of the same ones!! Szabo is high on my list. 3y
sisilia @emilyhaldi 🙌🏻 3y
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sisilia
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Omgawwwddd this book is making me cry 😭💔 I can‘t stop; it‘s so good!!! Magda Szabo is really good. I loved The Door; and this too, is going to be another 5 ⭐️ read for me

Tamra Oh, I need to read this! I enjoyed The Door. 3y
sisilia @Tamra You‘ll love this one. It‘s translated by Len Rix, who translated The Door. It‘s perfection 3y
Tamra @sisilia going to go find now..... 3y
AlaMich Is that for your NYRB book club? Her books have been on my NYRB TBR for awhile. (edited) 3y
sisilia @AlaMich It‘s not ☺️ I have been buying so many NYRBs and am going through the stack now 😆 Our next bookclub read is School for Love by Olivia Manning 3y
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sisilia
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Moving on to my next read

charl08 I've got this out from the library: hope to get to it soon. 3y
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TheBookstorePodcast
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

Just finished this, and I think I want to read everything Magda Szabó has written. -Becca

Mdargusch I read her book The Door and it was definitely too dark for me. Was this one dark too? 3y
TheBookstorePodcast @Mdargusch I haven‘t read The Door so I can‘t compare, but I‘d describe this one as bleak and depressing. 3y
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overtheedge
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Favorites July 2018:
Human Acts-Han Kang
My Year of Rest&Relaxation-Ottessa Moshfegh
Brazen-Penelope Bagieu
Katalin Street-Magda Szabo
The Patchwork Girl of Oz-Baum
Fun Home-Alison Bechdel
Music
BELLSTARR: Crash ep.
GOAT GIRL:The Man
LES MISERABLES Original London Cast
SCHLAMMPEITZIGER: What's Fruit?
ANTEROS:Cherry Drop
PARTNER:Everybody Knows
CHARLOTTE BASH:Leave
KEISHA:Woman
WAXX:Labrador
SHEA DIAMOND:Keisha Complexion
LITTLE QUIRKS:Crumbled

djh I am loving My Year of Rest and Relaxation! 4y
60 likes1 comment
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overtheedge
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

The memories, tough dilemmas on Katalin Street, overlooking the Danube river, resonate throughout the lives 3 family. My fave the Held family, who are deported & the death of their daughter, Henriette,who reappears in a ghost like memory to all the families, a constant reminder of the past that bind them.
A very high recommendation for this. Fantastic!

readordierachel Oh good! 4y
overtheedge It's as good as the door....starts a bit slow, but makes sense later. Hope u like it, if u read it! 4y
52 likes2 comments
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overtheedge
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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I completely enjoyed 'The Door'. Great story .. I love her depictions and characters....starting this tonight! Anyone else a fan?

pgh.femme I loved The Door. I‘m eager to see what you think of this one. 4y
readordierachel I enjoyed The Door too! I've been curious about her other work. 4y
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lauralovesbooks1
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Pickpick

Katalin Street looks at the lives of 3 families from one street in Budapest leading up to, during, and following WWII. The central events occur during the war, when the adults in one family are sent to the camps and the teenage daughter is killed, but much of the novel explores the aftermath of war and loss. Interesting premise and structure, although I got a bit lost at the beginning and had to reread the synopsis.

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rmaclean4
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Library Haul. Do you think my boss would understood if I called and took tomorrow off because I have too many books to read? #thestruggleisreal

Alfoster If he‘s a Litten he would!😂😂😂 4y
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schmia
Katalin Street | Magda Szabo
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Reading and coffee at Massolit Cafe in Budapest.