cover image Dossier K.

Dossier K.

Imre Kertész, trans. from Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson. Melville (Random, dist.), $18.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-61219-202-4

Hungarian author Kertész (Kaddish for an Unborn Child), winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature, pens an unflinching memoir in the form of a Socratic dialogue with himself about his extraordinary life. Noting that “a good autobiography is like a document: a mirror of the age on which people can ‘depend,’ ” Kertész unearths memories of his childhood in Budapest, his adolescent imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps, his pursuit of journalism in Communist-dominated Hungary, his two marriages, the eventual publication of his novels, and the relation between his life and literary career. The unsentimental and provocative author explores his views on religion: “I’m prone to mystic experiences, but dogmatic faith is totally alien to me.” He also discusses philosophy; Communism and his reasons for joining the Party; the legacy of the Holocaust; the influence of Thomas Mann, Albert Camus, and Franz Kafka on his work; and more. Kertész is meditative, insightful, profound, and unafraid to confront difficult questions and biases: “Anyone who is right generally proves not to be right. We need to have respect for man’s fallibility and ignorance....” He finds that writing gives him his greatest joy and believes it can only come from an “abundance of energies, from pleasure; writing... is heightened life”—and so is his memoir. (May)