Kertész, Imre (ĭmˈrĕ kĕrtĕshˈ) [key], 1929–, Hungarian novelist, b. Budapest. Of Jewish descent, Kertész spent two years in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, an experience that has shaped his fiction. Later, he returned to Hungary and lived for some four decades under the strictures of Communist rule. He now lives in both Budapest and Berlin. In his fiction Kertész has concentrated on the Holocaust, painting the Nazi camps as the height of modern degradation, but rejecting clichéd explanations, treating the Holocaust experience as a part of everyday life that sometimes even admits happiness, and meditating on the nature of survival and conformity. His first novel, Sorstalanság (1975; tr. Fateless 1992, Fatelessness 2004), together with A kudarc [fiasco] (1988), Kaddis a meg nem születetett gyermekért (1990; tr. Kaddish for a Child Not Born, 1997), and Felszámolás (2003; tr. Liquidation, 2004) form the semiautobiographical cornerstone of his fiction. Kertész's other works include three additional novels (1977, 1991, 2008), fictional diaries (1992, 1997), and lecture-essay collections (1993, 1998, 2001). In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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