The third book in this year’s Literature and War Readalong is Imre Kertész’ Holocaust novel Fateless. Kertész is a Hungarian author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002. As far as I know, he’s the only Hungarian author who has won the prize.
As a boy of fourteen, Kertész was deported to Auschwitz in 1944 and later brought to Buchenwald. Although the book is based on some of his own experiences, it is by no means autobiographical. The movie based on the book, and for which Kertész wrote the script, is much more autobiographical as the novel.
Here are the first sentences
I didn’t go to school today. Or rather, I did go, but only to ask my class teacher’s permission to take the day off. I also handed him the letter in which, referring to “family reasons” my father requested that I be excused. He asked what the “family reasons” might be. I told him my father had ben called up for labor service; after that he didn’t raise a further peep against it.
And some details and the blurb for those who want to join
Fateless – Sorstalanság by Imre Kertész (Hungary 1975), Holocaust, Novel, 272 pages.
The powerful story of an adolescent’s experience of Auschwitz by Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner, Imre Kertész.
Gyuri, a fourteen-year-old Hungarian Jew, gets the day off school to witness his father signing over the family timber business to the firm’s bookkeeper – his final business transaction before being sent to a labour camp. Two months after saying goodbye to his father, Gyuri finds himself assigned to a ‘permanent workplace’, but within a fortnight he is unexpectedly pulled off a bus and detained without explanation. This is the start of his journey to Auschwitz.
On his arrival Gyuri finds that he is unable to identify with other Jews, and in turn is rejected by them. An outsider among his own people, his estrangement makes him a preternaturally acute observer, dogmatically insisting on making sense of everything he witnesses.
I’m planning on watching the movie soon. I’m interested to see the differences. If you don’t get the time to read the novel, but still want to join the discussion, you could just watch (and review) the movie.
The discussion starts on Wednesday, 30 September 2015.
Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2015, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.