Kertész, Imre ĭm´rĕ kĕrtĕsh´ [key], 1929–2016, Hungarian novelist, b. Budapest. Of Jewish descent, as a teenager Kertész spent two years in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, experiences that became the subject of 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 subsequently lived in both Budapest and Berlin. In his fiction Kertész is a witness to the Holocaust, painting the Nazi camps as the height of modern degradation, but rejecting clichéd explanations, treating the Holocaust experience without outrage, as a part of everyday life that sometimes even admits happiness, and meditating on the nature of survival and conformity. He came to wide public attention with his first novel, Sorstalanság (1975; tr. Fateless, 1992; Fatelessness, 2004), which, together with A kudarc (1988; tr. Fiasco, 2011), 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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