Imre Kertesz, Author, Katharina Wilson, Translator, Christopher Wilson, Translator Northwestern University Press $68 (191p) ISBN 978-0-8101-1024-3
Kertesz ( Kaddish for an Unborn Child ), who, as a youth, spent a year as a prisoner in Auschwitz, has crafted a superb, haunting novel that follows Gyorgy Koves, a 14-year old Hungarian Jew, during the year he is imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Fighting to retain his equilibrium when his world turns upside down, Gyorgy rationalizes that certain events are ``probably natural'' or ``probably a mistake.'' Gradual starvation and what he experiences as grinding boredom become a way of life for him, yet Gyorgy describes both Buchenwald and its guards as ``beautiful''; as he asks ``who can judge what is possible or believable in a concentration camp?'' Gyorgy also comes to a sense of himself as a Jew. At first, he experiences a strong distaste for the Jewish-looking prisoners; he doesn't know Hebrew (for talking to God) or Yiddish (for talking to other Jews). Fellow inmates even claim Gyorgy is ``no Jew,'' and make him feel he isn't ``entirely okay.'' Kertesz's spare, understated prose and the almost ironic perspective of Gyorgy, limited both by his youth and his inability to perceive the enormity of what he is caught up in, give the novel an intensity that will make it difficult to forget. One learns something of concentration camp life here, even while becoming convinced that one cannot understand that life at all--not the way Kertesz does. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1992
Release date: 07/01/1992
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Paperback - 191 pages - 978-0-8101-1049-6
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