Moving backwards may be like healing a wound, returning to a perfect unwounded beginning where all is innocence and potential. There is innocence in a photograph too. The faces that look out at us are ignorant of what is to come. None of this, as they say, was meant to happen. It is only we, we gods of time and space, who know their future.In July 1975, George Szirtes' mother, Magda, died in an ambulance, on her way to hospital after attempting to take her own life. She was fifty-one years old. This memoir is an attempt to make sense of what came before, of re-constructing who Magda Szirtes really was. George Szirtes moves back in time, starting at the end, in her "dream kitchen" in North Wembley, and working his way through motherhood and the flight from Hungary to the West, through girlhood all the way to early childhood in Hungary, before the War, before the camps.The Diver is a deeply honest piece of autobiographical writing - and all the more powerful for its understatement. The prose is flawless - clean, precise and lyrical - and the woman who emerges, fleetingly, fragmentarily - with her absolutism, her contradictions, her beauty - is utterly captivating, and moving in her flawed-ness.In following Magda's trajectory backwards, The Diver excavates a shard of European history; it looks at maternal love and filial love, at the mechanisms of grief and the repercussions of trauma. It grapples with memory and the limits to how closely we ever can know anybody. It does so with honesty, integrity and tenderness.