Shoe sculptures and Jewish memorial
Photo by davescunningplan used under a Creative Commons license.

Imre Kertész, Fatelessness (Vintage, 2004).
In 1944, György Köves is a 14-year-old Hungarian Jew in Budapest, with more privileges than many Jews because he has been enlisted to repair bomb damage. One day his bus is stopped and he and others are rounded up and transported to Auschwitz. Days later he is transferred to Buchenwald, and later to another camp, Zeitz. After a year, he is liberated. Kertész lived through this, and much of the novel seems autobiographical, though Kertész says otherwise. Kertész tells his story in stark and simple terms, all the more moving for Koves’ matter-of-fact outlook. Fatelessness was first published in Hungary in 1975. The book was first published in English in 1992 under the title, Fateless. Kertész won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002, the first Hungarian to be so honored.

The Nobel Prize folks provide this biography of Kertész and other information, including his Nobel Lecture. Here is the Complete Review’s review, and here are its links to a copious assortment of other published reviews. György Spiró writes about Fatelessness and his relationship with Kertész in The Hungarian Quarterly. Via Chad W. Post, here is an article by Tim Wilkinson on other work by Kertész now in translation. Brain Drain points to this interview with Kertész . Judith Bolton-Fasman posts this essay about the book. Bloggers writing about the book include Henry Joy McCracken, waggish, Tchelyzt, nathan emmerich, Philip Spires, Pazdziernik. NPR aired this story about the movie’s fidelity to the novel.

Buy it at Amazon.com.