Magda’s Boy

How George Szirtes invented his mother

For much of his writing career, award-winning poet George Szirtes has been experimenting with how to put his family's extraordinary experiences into words.

His mother, Magda, was a Romanian-born photographer who made her way to Budapest as a teenager and was captured by the Arrow Cross. His father, Laszlo, escaped the labour camps of Ukraine and went on to occupy a senior position in the Ministry of Building in postwar Hungary. Together they fled with their two sons to England after Russian tanks rolled into Budapest in 1956.

In Magda's Boy, Anthony Wilks spends time with Szirtes to find out how he has gone about telling these stories, and what it's like to be a Hungarian-born poet writing in English, living in a small market town in Norfolk.

Related articles in the LRB:

Mark Ford: Sssnnnwhuffffll
Metro by George Szirtes, and other books

László Krasznahorkai: There Goes Valzer
translated by George Szirtes

Adam Phillips: Desired Desire
Conversations in Bolzano by Sándor Márai, translated by George Szirtes

Stan Smith: Imagining the Suburbs
Bridge Passages by George Szirtes, and other books

Eric Hobsbawm: Budapest 1956