Bánk, Zsuzsa 1965–
Bánk, Zsuzsa 1965–
PERSONAL: Born 1965, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Education: Attended universities in Mainz, Germany, and Washington, DC.
ADDRESSES: Home—Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harcourt, 6277 Sea Harbor Dr., Orlando, FL 32887.
CAREER: Writer, bookseller, and freelance editor.
AWARDS, HONORS: Aspekte Literaturpreis and Literaturförderpreis der Jürgen-Ponto-Stiftung, both 2002, and Deutscher Bücherpreis, 2003, all for The Swimmer; Bettina von Arnim Preis, 2003, for story "Unter Hunden"; Adalbert von Chamisso Preis, 2004.
Der Schwimmer (novel), S. Fischer (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2002, translation by Margot Bettauer Dembo published as The Swimmer, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
The Swimmer has been translated into Hungarian.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Another novel.
SIDELIGHTS: In her debut novel, The Swimmer, Zsuzsa Bánk portrays a dysfunctional Hungarian family against the turbulent backdrop of the 1950s. After the mother, Katalin, deserts the family and heads to the West, the alcoholic father, Kalman, and children Kata and Isti leave their family farm. While they move in and out of the homes of various relatives, Kata tries to make a coherent life for herself and her younger brother Isti, but the only activity that brings together this suffering family is swimming.
The novel caught the attention of reviewers. Told from the perspective of the daughter, this story "can, and does, tug the heartstrings," wrote Booklist reviewer Whitney Scott, the critic praising Bánk for her "skillful characterizations and detailed descriptions of the countryside." Among the work's admirers number Library Journal reviewer Edward Cone, who, dubbed The Swimmer a "remarkable" tale, and a Publishers Weekly critic who noted that "the novel's delicate treatment of Kata's stoicism and powerlessness makes the denouement of this resonant narrative especially heartbreaking." In Kirkus Reviews a contributor likened the novel to the fictional works of Jerzy Kosinski and the memoir of Agota Kristof, writing that its "spareness provides The Swimmer with its impact."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2004, Whitney Scott, review of The Swimmer, p. 634.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2004, review of The Swimmer, p. 1152.
Library Journal, October 15, 2004, Edward Cone, review of The Swimmer, p. 52.