Reckoning by Magda Szubanski


By Magda Szubanski

  • Release Date: 2015-09-23
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 439 Ratings
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Heartbreaking, joyous, traumatic, intimate and revelatory, Reckoning is the book where Magda Szubanski, one of Australia's most beloved performers, tells her story.

In this extraordinary memoir, Magda describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father's espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of her sexuality, to the complex dramas of adulthood and her need to find out the truth about herself and her family. With courage and compassion she addresses her own frailties and fears, and asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on.

Honest, poignant, utterly captivating, Reckoning announces the arrival of a fearless writer and natural storyteller. It will touch the lives of its readers.

Magda Szubanski is one of Australia’s best known and most loved performers. She began her career in university revues, then appeared in a number of sketch comedy shows before creating the iconic character of Sharon Strzelecki in ABC-TV’s Kath and Kim. She has also acted in films (BabeBabe: Pig in the CityHappy FeetThe Golden Compass) and stage shows. Reckoning is her first book.

‘A brave and tender book about everything that matters most in life.’ Cate Blanchett

‘This is a remarkable memoir, that weaves the tragedy of twentieth century history into a personal narrative of coming to terms with family and self, and manages to honour both stories. The writing is assured and controlled, the storytelling expert and thoughtful, the language eloquent and moving. The writing, the story, the voice—all of it is beautiful.’ Christos Tsiolkas

Reckoning is a riveting, overwhelmingly poignant autobiography by a woman of genius…It is an extraordinary hymn to the tragic heroism at the heart of ordinary life and the soaring moral scrutiny of womankind. Every library should have it, every school should teach it.’ Weekend Australian

‘Unlike most autobiographies by famous people, Reckoning has substance beyond the writer’s fame…Szubanski’s fine memoir, written with great style, adds another layer to our history—another startling migrant story.’ Crikey

‘Sensitive and searching, colourful and vividly composed…stylish and accomplished.’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘Nearly every memoir is described as “brave” these days but Szubanski has earned the word…The result of her efforts is an affecting story of family intimacy—soulfully and sensitively told.’ Saturday Paper

‘[Reckoning is] a page-turner…The quality of a memoir depends on how interesting a life the person writing it has had and Szubanski doesn’t appear to do dull. She is articulate and likeable as she tries to reconcile herself with the many difficult aspects of her past.’ New Zealand Herald

‘Magda’s memoir is a moving exploration of her relationship with her Polish Resistance hero father…Reckoning is a quest and, in a sad but satisfying way, Magda does find what she’s seeking.’ Australian Women’s Weekly

‘We all knew she was funny, but who knew she could write like this?’ Benjamin Law, Age/Sydney Morning Herald

Reckoning is a beautiful and moving story of a serious, thoughtful and complex person.’ Paul Barclay, Radio National Books and Arts, Best Books of 2015

‘[Szubanski] captures wonderfully well the strange dissonance of history.’ Sophie Cunningham, Australian, Best Books of 2015

‘It is impossible not to be moved…Let’s hope Szubanski writes more. She shines just as brightly as a serious writer as she does as a comedian.’ Guardian, Best Australian Books of 2015


  • A gift from my mother...

    By Nicola.Levi
    Beautiful..... Thank you.... I will go to Poland now.... In fact, I'm sure Polish tourism will never be the same again....
  • Epic, surprising, honest and brilliant

    By Angelhellcat
    There's so many aspects of this book I love. It's beautifully written with such honesty, emotion and the weaving of family stories that I found it hard to put down. I can only imagine how tortuously difficult it must have been to write and then let go to the world. There's so much to admire about Magda and her life journey, acceptance of self and identity, her amazing family and story. I've never read anything so brutally honest and at times heartbreaking. I love the Australianess of the writing style and then the irony of Magda's feelings of exclusion. Thanks for giving us so much joy and laughter over the years Magda and now this beautiful memoir.
  • Reckoning

    By Francesrosemary
    Brilliant, thank you Magda.
  • Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

    By Foxytom
    Such a brilliantly written poignant story of family love and of self criticism not knowing who you really are. Such a fabulous book about coming to terms with how the war had made her family who they were, and being about to accept who Magda was in herself. I couldn't put it down. Marvellous read.
  • Thank You

    By Frustrated Grannie
    I only bought this book because I love your comedy work, Magda, but soon found you are an equally talented writer. Thank you for unselfishly sharing your family and your secrets with us.
  • Reckoning

    By by Tuppence
    I read the book for a book club review and my son recommended it to me. I'm glad I have read it because I now see all of Magda including the pain. I'm impressed with the wordsmith of her writing. The writing set in small chapters made for an easy read. Magda has portrayed the pain of "coming out " and she has my admiration for finding her courage. To have such a family history but from 2 very different back grounds proves love conquers all. Love is perfect.
  • Reckoning

    By Redshimmy
    Wonderful book I couldn't put it down. I feel like I have journeyed with Magda and shared her fears and tears. Well done I hope this isn't the only book you write.
  • Reckoning

    By Einnansirhc
    Wonderful read, well done Magda. You touched many chords for me on my own different yet the same journey throught life.
  • Insightful

    By AngieMaree
    A very honest and gritty read. Thank you Magda.
  • Reckoning

    By Magda Szubanski
    You have told us an incredible story of love, devotion and courage. Thank you beyond words. I can't help but feel your conclusion, that your father would have "to kill you", was a product of the West's over-thinking. Such a man gave you every tool to live. Yes, he must have worried you, your sister, and your brother would be soft. What were you worried about as a 15-year-old? Throwing the next tennis match? He was doing his best for his fellow man and woman. All families echo with the tragedies of the past. My father was born and bred in Brisbane, but when he had brain tumours pressing on the nerves that usually suppress emotion, he spoke of being a tracker to a Qld tragedy. With three weeks to live in 2003, he spoke of the first time what it was like to be the first responders to a 1947 Brisbane train crash that killed about 16 people. He and his brother, Jack, whom he said was the true bush tracker, led recovery teams to the Camp Mountain crash site. "Oh Dad, that must have been dreadful," I said. He looked at me incredulously. "There were so many lives ruined that day. My sadness was nothing compared to that." You may not know if your family's sacrifice bore fruit, but you don't know it didn't, so don't assume the worst. Vive courage, fortitude, and endurance. Vive Zbigniew Szubanski. You gave us rules to live by. In the words of Maya Angelou, "Do the best you can. When you know better, do better". And I'd bet my house (not said lightly as a single mother to three children) your father would have pulled the trigger on himself before his three children. His harshness with his children was fighting to preserve his life, not yours.