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A poet's memoir of his mother that flows backwards through time, and excavates a shard of European history - a deeply honest, tender and yet unsentimental autobiographical journey.

A poet's memoir of his mother that flows backwards through time, through a tumultuous period of European history - a tender and yet unsparing autobiographical journey.

**A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK**

"A truly remarkable book . . . fiercely compelling" EDMUND DE WAAL

*WINNER OF THE JAMES TAIT BLACK MEMORIAL PRIZE* *SHORTLISTED FOR THE JEWISH WINGATE PRIZE*

"I've read no memoir that moved me more" MIRANDA SEYMOUR

"The writing is always scrupulous . . . [a] compelling memoir" BLAKE MORRISON

"Beautifully written and utterly compelling" Sunday Times

"An original, probingly thoughtful memoir" EVA HOFFMANN

In July 1975, Magda Szirtes died in the ambulance on the way to hospital after she had tried to take her own life. She was fifty-one years old. The Photographer at Sixteen spools into the past, through her exile in England, her flight with her husband and two young boys from Hungary in 1956 and her time in two concentration camps, her girlhood as an ambitious photographer, and the unknowable fate of her vanished family in Transylvania.

The woman who emerges - with all her contradictions - is utterly captivating. What were the terrors and obsessions that drove her? The Photographer at Sixteen reveals a life from the depths of its final days to the comparable safety of its childhood. It is a book born of curiosity, of guilt and of love.

Details

ISBN13: 9780857058553
Format: Paperback / softback
Number of Pages: 240
Edition:
Publication Date: 6 Feb 2020
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 19.6(H) x 12.8(L) x 2(W)140
Weight (gm): 140

Author Biography

GEORGE SZIRTES' many books of poetry have won prizes including the T. S. Eliot Prize (2004), for which he was again shortlisted for Bad Machine (2013). His translation of Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai (whom he interviewed for The White Review) was awarded the Best Translated Book Award in the US. He is also the translator of Sandor Marai and Magda Szabo. The Photographer at Sixteen is his first venture into prose writing of his own.

Reviews

A truly remarkable book about identity, image and memory. It is fiercely compelling.

Szirtes uses his poet's eye to build images and details that bring his mother superbly to life . . . [this] is a beautifully written and utterly compelling narrative. - Sunday Times

In this extraordinary, hybrid book - part memoir, part history, part poetic journey - Szirtes re-makes the life of his mother, tracing her childhood in Europe's darkest period to her life in Britain after the Hungarian uprising. He brilliantly captures how sometimes it's those closest to us who remain the most mysterious.

Unforgettably sad . . . Szirtes has made [his mother's] monument. It is a courageous and remarkable achievement. I've read no memoir that moved me more. - Financial Times

In this quest to understand the enigma of his mother 's life and death, George Szirtes travels back from personal memory to deeper history, as he reconstructs his family's tragedy-darkened past . . . An original, probingly thoughtful memoir whose restraint only increases its poignancy and impact

A book full of warmth, grief, curiosity, wisdom, staggering anecdotes and a coming to terms with the vicissitudes of 20th-century history . . . [a] highly original telling of the author's mother's life and the heartrending events through which she lived. - New European

[An] exquisitely told memoir . . . By telling the story of his mother's life backwards Szirtes has performed a sort of conjuring trick . . . Not simply a memoir but a hybrid of history and biography interspersed with photographs, poems and several standout moments - Spectator

As isolated snapshots build into a family portrait, and a historical fresco, we grasp the wider picture . . . beautiful, devastating - Arts Desk
The Photographer at Sixteen: A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
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