A Novel

Book - 2004
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At the age of 14 Georg Koves is plucked from his home in a Jewish section of Budapest and without any particular malice, placed on a train to Auschwitz. He does not understand the reason for his fate. He doesn't particularly think of himself as Jewish. And his fellow prisoners, who decry his lack of Yiddish, keep telling him, "You are no Jew." In the lowest circle of the Holocaust, Georg remains an outsider.
The genius of Imre Kertesz's unblinking novel lies in its refusal to mitigate the strangeness of its events, not least of which is Georg's dogmatic insistence on making sense of what he witnesses-or pretending that what he witnesses makes sense. Haunting, evocative, and all the more horrifying for its rigorous avoidance of sentiment, Fatelessness is a masterpiece in the traditions of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Tadeusz Borowski.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International, 2004.
Edition: First Vintage International edition.
ISBN: 9781400078639
Characteristics: 262 pages ; 21 cm


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Oct 04, 2011

This story opens as we are immediately plunked into a young, 15 year old boys life. We come to realize very quickly that we are reading about World War II and that young Gyuri is Jewish, and getting ready to say goodbye to his father who is being shipped out to a work camp. Set in Hungry, Fatelessness follows along as Gyuri is separated from his family and shipped off to Auschwitz. Trying to make sense of senseless acts, this boy, who doesn’t particularly think of himself as Jewish, slowly loses the last things he owns, his identity and his sense of self.

This story is made all the more powerful by the author, Imre Kertesz, who writes in a matter-of-fact, unsentimental way as he portrays this chilling, haunting story. As we follow Gyuri from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, he slowly becomes aware that he is one of the few that haven’t been immediately killed. He is crammed into a shed with two hundred and fifty other men, kept alive on starvation rations and forced to labour in an adjacent factory. At first he thinks he will get along by being a model prisoner, but polite obedience and a willingness to work until his fingers bleed eventually give way to the slow realization that he is powerless to change things.

A heart-rendering story, Fatelessness, is Imre Kertesz story as well, as he was imprisoned in Buchenwald as a young man, and this, his first novel, does much to shed light upon this terrible moment in history.

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