The World's Best Unknown Books
04 04 2013

European Realism at its best

Niki, the story of a dog Tibor Déry

Translation Edward Hyams

‘The dog adopted the Ancsas in the spring of 1948’. 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.

Tibor Déry is one of the masters of the great tradition of European realism that we associated with the name of Thomas Mann, and he deserves our close attention

The Times Literary Supplement (TLS)

The new Communist government promises to set things straight, and Mr. Ancsa, an engineer, is as eager to get to work building the future as he is to forget the past. The last thing he has time for is a little mongrel bitch, pregnant with her first litter. But Niki knows better, and before long she is part of the Ancsa household.

The Ancsas even take her along with them when Mr. Ancsa’s new job requires a move to an apartment in the city.

Then Mr. Ancsa is swept up in a political crackdown—disappearing without a trace. For five years he does not return, five years of absence, silence, fear, and the constant struggle to survive—five years during which Mrs. Ancsa and Niki have only each other.

The story of Niki, an ordinary dog, and the Ancsas, a no less ordinary couple, is an extraordinarily touching, utterly unsentimental, parable about caring, kindness, and the endurance of love.

NYRB Classics
Original language
Original title
Niki (1956)
Earlier in these languages
German, Spanish, Swedish, Japanese, Turkish and many other languages.
Review: 'Niki: The Story of a Dog' NY books
A Poem by Hungarian Writer Tibor Déry
Tibor Déry Prize

Available as
ISBN 9781590173183
160 pages
$ 14,95