When Ettie's husband dies, her daughter Iza insists that her mother give up the family house in the countryside and move to Budapest. Displaced from her community and her home, Ettie tries to find her place in this new life, but can't seem to get it right. She irritates the maid, hangs food outside the window because she mistrusts the fridge and, in her naivety and loneliness, invites a prostitute in for tea.
Iza’s Ballad is the story of a woman who loses her life’s companion and a mother trying to get close to a daughter whom she has never truly known. It is about the meeting of the old-fashioned and the modern worlds and the beliefs we construct over a lifetime.
[A] heartbreakingly beautiful novel… George Szirtes conveys both the sophistication and simplicity of Szabó’s narrative in a superb translation… Humble, wistful Ettie is a wonderful creation… Just as The Door won an immediate English-language following, Iza’s Ballad is bound to become one of the most loved books of the year… This publication of Iza’s Ballad, subtle and profound, is a cause for celebration
The writing has a lovely clarity and a relevance that is timeless
Szabo nails with incisive clarity the painful dynamics between the two [central] characters… A perceptive study of family relationships, bereavement and old age, it is harrowingly beautiful
A ruthless exploration of the damage we inflict on one another in the name of love
Szabo…is a rare voice, and this novel about the death of tradition and hope is a marvel of empathy