Imre Kertész

Imre Kertész (born November 9, 1929, Budapest) is a Hungarian Jewish author, Holocaust concentration camp survivor, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002 "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history".


He was born on November 9, 1929 in Budapest, Hungary. At age 14 he was deported with other Hungarian Jews during World War II to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Kertész' best-known work, Fatelessness (Sorstalanság), describes the experience of fifteen-year-old György (George) Köves in the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz. Some have interpreted the book as quasi-autobiographical, but the author disavows a strong biographical connection. His writings translated into English include Kaddish for a Child Not Born (Kaddis a meg nem született gyermekért) and Liquidation (Felszámolás). Kertész initially found little appreciation for his writing in Hungary and moved to Germany. Mr. Kertész started translating German works into Hungarian and did not publish another novel until the late 1980s. He continues to write in Hungarian and submits his works to publishers in Hungary.

A film based on his novel Fatelessness was made in Hungary in 2005 for which he wrote the script. Although sharing the same title, the movie is more autobiographical than the book. The film was released at various dates throughout the world in 2005 and 2006.

Together with his wife he lives in Berlin.

Political views on the Magyar minority in Romania

In a petition addressed to European and Romanian leaders, Kertész requested the opening of a separate Hungarian-language (Magyar) university to serve the 1.5 million-strong Hungarian minority in Romania. In an article published on 22 February, 2006 by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "Ceauşescu's Institute", Kertész launched a virulent attack against the Babeş-Bolyai University in the city Cluj-Napoca in the Transylvanian region of Romania, calling the university "a relic of the national-socialist era".


  • Fateless (Sorstalanság) (1975). English Translations:

*Fateless, 1992 (ISBN 0-8101-1049-0 and ISBN 0-8101-1024-5),
*Fatelessness, 2004 (ISBN 1-4000-7863-6)

* Kaddish for an Unborn Child, tr. Tim Wilkinson, 2004, ISBN 1-4000-7862-8
* Kaddish for a Child Not Born, tr. Christopher C. Wilson and Katharina M. Wilson, 1999, ISBN 0-8101-1161-6

Works of Imre Kertész in English

  • Fatelessness / translated by Tim Wilkinson. New York: Knopf, 2004.
  • Fateless / translated by Christopher C. Wilson and Katharina M. Wilson: Northwestern University Press, 1992.–Uniform title: ISBN 0810110490
  • Kaddish for an Unborn Child / translated by Tim Wilkinson: Vintage, 2004. ISBN 1400078628
  • Kaddish for a child not born / translated by Christopher C. Wilson and Katharina M. Wilson.–Evanston, Ill. : Hydra Books, 1997.–Uniform title: ISBN 0810111616
  • Liquidation / translated by Tim Wilkinson: Knopf, 2004. ISBN 1400041538
  • Detective Story / translated by Tim Wilkinson: Harvill Secker, 2008. ISBN 1846551838
  • The Pathseeker / translated by Tim Wilkinson: Melville House, 2008. ISBN 978-1-933633-53-4

Works about Kertész

  • Vasvári, Louise O. and Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven (eds.) Imre Kertész and Holocaust Literature. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2005. Purdue Books in Comparative Cultural Studies 8. The first English-language volume on Kertész including papers by scholars in Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, and the United States. It also includes the first English edition of a text by Imre Kertész, "Galley Boat-Log (Gályanapló): Excerpt(s)" translated by Tim Wilkinson, a review article about books on Jewish Identity and anti-Semitism in Central Europe by Barbara Breysach, and a bibliography of Imre Kertész's works.
  • Molnár, Sára. "Nobel in Literature 2002 Imre Kertész's Aesthetics of the Holocaust." CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 5.1 (2003)
  • Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven. "And the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature Goes to Imre Kertész, Jew and Hungarian." CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 5.1 (2003)
  • Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven. "Imre Kertész's Nobel Prize, Public Discourse, and the Media." CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 7.4 (2005)


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