Imre Kertész

Kertész, Imre (ĭmˈrĕ kĕrtĕshˈ) [key], 1929–, Hungarian novelist, b. Budapest. Of Jewish descent, as a teenager Kertész spent two years in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, experiences that have shaped his fiction. Later, he returned to Hungary, working as a journalist and as a translator of such German writers as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein, and writing plays and fiction 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. He first came to wide public attention with 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 fictional diaries (1992, 1997), lecture-essay collections (1993, 1998, 2001), and Dossier K. (2006, tr. 2013), a memoir in which he interviews himself. In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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