Niki: The Story of a Dog

Niki: The Story of a Dog

Paperback New York Review Books Classics

By (author) Tibor Dery, Introduction by George Szirtes, Translated by Edward Hyams


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  • Publisher: NYRB Classics
  • Format: Paperback | 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 124mm x 198mm x 13mm | 159g
  • Publication date: 10 September 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 159017318X
  • ISBN 13: 9781590173183
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 257,579

Product description

"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 at least, and Mr. Ancsa, an engineer, is as eager to get to work building the future as he is to forget the past. (He and his wife lost their only son in the war.) The last thing he has time for is a little mongrel bitch, pregnant with her first litter. But Niki knows what she wants, and before long she is part of the Ancsa household. The Ancsas even take her along with them when Mr. Ancsa's new job as director of a newly nationalized mine requires a move to an apartment in the city. A political crackdown follows, and Mr. Ancsa is swept up in it -disappearing without a trace. For five years he does not return, five years of absence, silence, fear, and the constant struggle to survive. Mrs. Ancsa and Niki have only each other. It is this relationship, between the absent husband, the lonely wife, and the most ordinary of dogs, that lies at the heart of a book that turns the story of man's inhumanity to man into a deeply poignant but entirely unsentimental parable about the endurance of love and the meaning of caring.

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Author information

Tibor Dery (1894-1977) was born in Budapest. He was imprisoned in 1943 for translating Andre Gide's diary, and after being dispelled from the Communist Party in 1953, began writing satires of the Hungarian regime. A spokesman during the Hungarian Revolt of 1956, Dery was arrested and sentenced to nine years of prison for his writings and political activities. Due to an international outcry, he was released in 1960. George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and moved to England as a refugee in 1956. He has published several books and won various prizes including the T S Eliot Prize for Reel in 2005. He lives near Norwich with his wife, the painter Clarissa Upchurch.

Review quote

Hungarian dissident Tibor Dery's novella has been deservingly rescued from obscurity in a flawless translation by Edward Hyams. While the book is the story of a dog in extraordinarily sustained and focused doggy detail, it also conveys more about the emotional and psychological toll of repression than a dozen history books...Theaccount of Niki's life with its exquisite observations of her behaviour and character is utterly charming yet devoid of sentimentality. One certainly doesn't have to be a dog person to enjoy writing of such precision and beauty. Guardian