Remembering Imre Kertesz


We are saddened to announce the passing of Imre Kertesz who died on Thursday at his home in Budapest. Kertesz was imprisoned at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, and later worked as a journalist and a playwright before publishing his first novel, Fateless in 1975. Northwestern University Press is proud to have introduced his work to the English-speaking world with its translations of two of Kertesz’s novels, Fateless in 1992 and Kaddish for a Child Not Born in 1997.

Fateless is the story of 14-year-old George Koves’s experiences in German concentration camps and his attempts to reconcile himself to those experiences after the war. In the camps, George maintains a precarious semblance of normalcy by imputing human motives to his inhuman captors in a response to his situation that is curiously ambivalent.  Lacking emotional or spiritual ties to his Jewish heritage and rejected by his country, he ultimately comes to the conclusion that neither his neither his Hungarian nor his Jewish identity was at the heart of his fate: there are only “given situations, and within these, further givens.” The Washington Times called Fateless “an ornate and honest testimony to the human spirit.”

Kertesz received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002. He was 86.

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