Fatelessness (1975) Imre Kertész

Imre Kertesz, Nobel Prize for Literature, spent his 14th year (1944-45) being moved around between Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and a third Nazi labor/death camp. His novelized memoir, first person view of the 14 year old, is a captivating read. Totally unsentimental view of what seems to a 14 year old to be very slow motion of bad to worse. –It doesn’t happen all at once— is his idea of how he survived, you get used to it and then it changes. What is next? No one knows. This point of view is a startling and powerful boost to understanding the “Final Solution” as a contingent process that produced death upon the rational calculation of calories in to a camp against value of labor out of the camp. Concentration camp, labor camp, death camp these are three different modes of captivity in the period 1933-1945 for Jews. Our narrator never really knows where he is in this changing world, he looks on in wonder and near invincible but unheroic optimism. “Fatelessness” is first of a trilogy… book two “Fiasco” I have started. No wonder he won Nobel Prize!! In book 2 he is an adult in Hungary who wrote a novel about his year as a teen in Auschwitz. Shopping the novel around between publishers, security apparatus, friends… “you need to shock us more, tell us how horrible it was, more graphic, anne frank, c’mon no one will read this.”


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