Anna Porter was born Anna Szigethy in Budapest, Hungary. Her family fled following the failed revolution against communism in 1956. They first settled in New Zealand, where she went to school at the University of Canterbury. She was always interested in books and publishing especially after experiencing the repression on literature under the communist regime. Eventually, she moved to Canada. Here she founded Key Porter Books and then purchased a majority stake in publisher Double Day Canada. She is one of the most respected publishing professionals in Canada. But she has stepped away from publishing so she can focuson writing.
In her most recent book, the Ghosts of Europe, she examines the transition from communism to democracy in Central Europe. She looks at four nations – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and her native Hungary. I think she has a very unique perspective in that she has lived under communism and lived in democracies. She of course points out the tyranny of communist rule and the joy & hope that filled those nations when the communist system collapsed.
But once that freedom was obtained, everything did not go well. Each nation faced significant challenges. This might surprise those of us from North America because we can easily assume that the greatest thing that could ever happen to a country was freedom from tyranny and adoption of democracy. Or we might think the greatest blessing for any people is to adopt and embrace a system exactly like ours. But Anna, as somewhat of an outsider, brings a very different perspective.