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Imre Kertész
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  3,311 ratings  ·  291 reviews
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 Hol ...more
Published August 1st 2004 by Turtleback Books (first published 1975)
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Nobel prize-winner Imre Kertész survived stays in both the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. While he was there, I have no doubt that he suffered a great deal—both physically and psychologically—so I was (understandably, I think) hesitant to dislike his semi-autobiographical Holocaust novel Fatelessness. It seems (at the very least) very inconsiderate of me to criticize his book for failing to 'entertain' me.

Entertainment is a strange, nebulous word. Are we entertained (in whatever
Fatelessness is a profound, deeply unsettling book.

Georg Koves is a Hungarian boy, about 14 or 15. His father was already taken away to a forced labor camp. He thinks about Jewishness, his own identity, the star on his coat, and girls. After a stint of his own forced labor and a betrayal from his neighbors, he is sent to Auschwitz. He is told to lie about his age, and he does. This spares him from gas and incineration. After some time there, he is then sent to Buchenwald, then to a 'provincial'
This is when I found out that you could be bored even in Auschwitz - provided you were choosy. We waited and we waited, and as I come to think of it, we waited for nothing to happen. This boredom, combined with this strange waiting, was, I think, approximately what Auschwitz meant to me, but of course I am only speaking for myself.
As he said, he's only speaking for himself. Here, I am speaking for myself, as is the case for any and all fiction, and even some of the non. What I speak involves my
Feb 24, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in modern european history
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Kertesz won the Nobel prize for literature for this book and it is really not surprising, hence the five stars. I would also advocate that the book be called "Timeless" as well for it is one of those books which has an aura of being beyond time. It could have been written immediately after the end of World War II, or it could have been written yesterday, and there is little way of knowing (at least through the text) when this story was made its way onto paper because it is a single voice in the ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 10, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
For me, all works by a Nobel Prize in Literature winner should be gems. Methinks that getting this prize is the highest honor that any writer on this earth can dream about.

So, since I have turned into a voracious reader, I have been sampling a work or so of the past Nobel laureates. So far, I’ve read:
Sienkiewicz (1905). Hamsum (1920). Mann (1929). Hesse (1946). Faulkner (1949). Hemingway (1954). Jimenez (1956). Camus (1957). Checkhov (1958). Pasternak (1958). Neruda (1971). Bellow (1976). Cane

Yang namanya mati rasa memang tak pernah mengenal masa. Di masa perang, di masa damai, rasa tanpa rasa bisa hadir kapan saja tanpa mengenal waktu dan usia. Sejarah pun menjadi saksi mata. Di masa Perang Dunia II di Eropa, seorang remaja 15 tahun mengalaminya. George Kovas namanya. Ia tinggal di Budapest, Hungaria. Dan Imre Kertesz menuliskan kisahnya.

Suatu hari George Kovas meminta izin pada gurunya di sekolah untuk meninggalkan kelas karena alasan yang pribadi sifatnya. Dia harus pula
Nate D
Dec 21, 2011 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the inadequate and unprocessable
Recommended to Nate D by: those who do not remember history...
Shelves: read-in-2011, hungary
After reading so many books lately, including Kertesz's own Liquidation, that profess the inability of words to render or address the Holocaust, it's somewhat unfamiliar to find it being dealt with here directly. But Kertesz was born in 1929 and really was sent to Auschwitz, so regardless of how autobiographical this may be, he seems more, uh... qualified ... to deal with this era than most. What an inadequate word, qualified. As above, words are not enough, and even though this is a direct firs ...more
My mechanics are likely skewed, it happens. The passing of Hitchens has pressed me terribly. This remarkable novel represented a current of oxygen amidst the stifle. Fateless maintains an ironic stance towards the Shoah. It should be embraced. By "embrace", I mean to cherish. By "It" I mean both the irony and the novel.
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

I probably read a bad translation and maybe not one of the two that I have is any good. Funny that from a single Hungarian original more than one English translation can emerge. They couldn't even agree on the title: one has Fateless, and the other has Fatelessness. In one, there'll be three paragraphs which in the other are lumped into a long singularity. A mere phrase in one would be an independent sentence in another; a direct quote, just a simple declarative sentence in the other version; a
Lisa Lieberman
I read Fatelessness for the first time not long after Kertész won the Nobel Prize, and without knowing much about Hungarian history or Hungarian writers. I will admit, I was mystified by its tone, which veered back and forth between a disarming intimacy (where the reader is invited to share the naive perspective of the 15-year-old narrator, Gyorgy, on his experiences in the lagers) and the ironic detachment of the narrator's adult self. It was more layered than a work of witness testimony, such ...more
Fatelessness tells the story of 15-year-old Georg Koves, a highly assimilated Hungarian Jew, who one day finds himself on a train to Auschwitz. He is only in Auschwitz for three days before being transferred to Buchenwald, and finally to a labor camp in Zeitz. The novel narrates his experiences in all three places. While he may have been whisked off to Auschwitz, as the book jacket puts it, “without any special malice,” he encounters plenty of cruelty along the way. But what’s weird and striking ...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
I think I was, oh, about fourteen when I first saw Schindler’s List, a movie that made such an impact on me that I followed it up by reading as much Holocaust literature as I could find, including the novel upon which the movie is based. To date I’ve read- aside from Keneally -Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, Primo Levis’ If This is a Man, Elie Wiesel’s Night, and Wielsaw Kielar’s Anus Mundi. The work that made the greatest impact on me, in simple emotional terms, w ...more
There are plenty of books out there that are more than happy to lead a reader through a vicarious experience of Nazi concentration camps of WWII. There is a kind of riveting thrill for these readers in stories of such unimaginable horror. But this book is not for them. No doubt, horrors abound, but our narrator is immune to them, or, more aptly, unsurprised by them, as these horrors are no more likely than comfort and happiness, in any given situation. The philosophy this young man learns throug ...more
Nancy Oakes
This novel is truly one of the best examples of Holocaust fiction, largely due to the power of Kertesz's writing, proving that you don't need to get into the horrific details in order to glimpse an individual's experience during this time period or the trauma of his survival upon his return home.

I'm not going to go into detail about plot here, (if you want to read about that then by all means drop in and take a look at my reading journal), but rather leave you with my impressions of this book.
I have to confess, when I first started reading this masterpiece (because it is in fact a masterpiece) I was not impressed. The absolute lack of any emotional attachment a reader usually experiences during the dive into the horrors of Holocaust was masterfully eliminated by Kertész and - as I soon discovered - with good purpose. I read Fatelessness/Sortalanság (oh, how inappropriate it sounds in English!) in its original language, Hungarian. Unfortunately, most of the readers here are probably n ...more
FATELESS. (1975). Imre Kertesz. ****.
Kertesz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002. Born in Hungary of Jewish parents in 1929, he was imprisoned as a teenager in Auschwitz. This was his first novel, where he shares his experiences through the persona of George Koves, a fifteen-year-old boy. Koves is made to spend time both in Auschwitz and in Buchenwald – and for a short time in a third camp. The way he viewed his incarceration was very strange. It was as if all the things happening to him
I don't ever really know what to say about books set during the Holocaust. This one is about a rather naive and initially thoughtless, unobservant boy who gets packed off first to Auschwitz, then Buchenwald, then a smaller labor camp, then back to Buchenwald. He becomes, for lack of a better word, institutionalized during this time, isolated from his captors (of course) but also from his fellow prisoners who either don't see him as sufficiently Jewish (neither does he see himself so) or who disl ...more
I often try to avoid works about the holocaust, because at this point, they often feel predictable and easy. I know that must sound like a terrible thing to say. I know the holocaust was a tragic and unforgettable atrocity, but it sometimes feels like there's little to gain from looking at it again, and that artists who source their work in it are taking a short-cut to something moving and poignant.

That's not the case with Kertesz.

By subverting the accepted standpoint(s) on the holocaust, by tak
"Non esiste assurdità che non possa essere vissuta con naturalezza e sul mio cammino, lo so fin d'ora, la felicità mi aspetta come una trappola inevitabile. Perché persino là, accanto ai camini, nell'intervallo tra i tormenti c'era qualcosa che assomigliava alla felicità. Tutti mi chiedono sempre dei mali, degli 'orrori': sebbene per me, forse, proprio questa sia l'esperienza più memorabile. Sì, è di questo, della felicità dei campi di concentramento che dovrei parlare loro, la prossima volta ch ...more
Paul Shirley
I asked a girl at a cafe in Budapest to recommend to me some Hungarian authors. It rained the next day, so I went to a bookstore and asked for Hungarian books that had been translated to English. And then, because why not start with the Nobel prize winner, I bought Fateless (or Fatelessness, as it was once called).

Fateless is an extraordinary book that is built for the skeptic in all of us. Kertesz does a fantastic job of putting the reader in the shoes of his protagonist, the mostly-nameless te
Edgar Trevizo
Ese final es absolutamente sublime. Me hizo sentir incluso culpable por dirigir mi atención a los horrores. La cuestión no es esa, aunque parezca imposible pensar de otra manera. La cuestión es la vida a pesar del horror, la felicidad, el cómo el hombre está tan enamorado de la vida, de toda la vida, que llega a transformar el horror en un puente para la felicidad. Tan enamorado de ella que le duele, cerca de la muerte, dejar de ver "este campo de concentración tan hermoso". Se me saltan las lág ...more
I have read many books about Nazi and Soviet prison camps, but this is the strangest of all. It tells the story of a 15-year-old Hungarian Jew who is arrested on his way to work and sent to Auschwitz. Instead of rubbing the horrors of the camp into our face, he shows his hero, Gyorgy, taking it all one step at a time -- even rejoicing at times despite the ghastliness of his surroundings. His simple faith takes him through experiences at two other camps, Zeitz and Buchenwald, until the latter is ...more
Fatema Alammar
إنها رواية "ضد المبالغة"، تتناول تجربة الهولوكوست بطريقة يقول عنها المترجم "غير مفتعلة" و"لا يوجد فيها ما هو شيطاني أو عجائبي".
من الأمور الملفتة عند الكاتب، البعد الفلسفي الخالي من التعقيد، ما يجعل صوته الروائي خاصا. نسمع البطل في النهاية يقول عبارات مثل:
"سأواصل حياتي غير القابلة للمواصلة"
"لا أستطيع بدء حياة جديدة إلا إذا ولدت من جديد"

كل من سيقرأ الرواية سيدرك أن بطل الرواية يتمتع بنظرة استثنائية تجاه تفاصيل الحياة، تدهشك أحيانا، وتفاجأك أحايين، وتثير حسدك أكثرَ الأحيان !
Kertesz was imprisioned in Auschwitz in his youth and he becomes a journalist and a writer. Fateless is the story of George, a Hungarian boy, is Jewish by birth but his family doesn't practice a religion and George speaks no Hebrew. George, who along with many other boys and a few men, are taken off buses one morning as they were going to work. They were sent to Auschwitz for processing: who would live and who would be gassed. George survives and is sent to Buchenwald. The story is told through ...more
I could barely put this book down. The narrative voice is eerily calm and matter-of-fact while describing the horrors of a concentration camp. This style of narration is more moving than one that describes the gore and misery in exact detail, because it is so opposite of the way the Holocaust is usually spoken of.
This is not an easy book to read, but I think it's an important book and Imre Kertész deserves the Nobel Prize for literature on the strength of it.
To see my review please visit

“El Holocausto no es un asunto exclusivo entre judíos y alemanes. Significa el punto final de una crisis moral y espiritual de Occidente, el piélago donde se hundieron los valores que habían sustentado la civilización europea durante siglos”.

El libro relata la vida de un adolescente en diversos campos de concentración contada por quien lo sufrió en carne propia: Imre Kertész, Premio Nobel de Literatura 2002, el primer húngaro en ganarlo.

Cualquier adversidad, cualquier sufrimiento, cualquier lim
Lora Grigorova

The semi-autobiographical novel follows the story of Georg Koves – a 14-year-old Hungarian Jew who is captured by the Germans and send to all of the “famous” concentration camps – Auschwitz, Buchenwald and eventually Zeitz. A fairly normal working day turns for the worst and Georg, along with many other boys his age, finds himself on the train to death. It seems strange but all the famine and torture associated with the death camps seems to p
Philippe Malzieu
Short sentences, a certain distance from the narrator compared to theaction. An influence of Camus asserted. But this style was essential to describe the indescribable. I remember Budapest. My hotel was close to the old synagogue. It is not visited but the engraved stones are visible behind the grids. In this beautiful city I felt an infinite unhappiness.
To be 15 years old with Auschwitz, to escape death, then to undergo vexations of the Communists because he wanted to perpetuate the memory of S
Dalam buku ini, yang menjadi tokoh utama adalah George Koves. Pemuda berusia 14-15 tahun ini menceritakan pengalamannya sejak dia pertama kali menghadapi kenyataan bahwa dia harus menggunakan “bintang kuning” (tanda pengenal bagi orang Yahudi), ayahnya yang harus ikut dalam kamp konsentrasi, sampai ketika dia sendiri masuk ke dalam kamp konsentrasi tersebut. Pembantaian massal, penyiksaan, dan pelecehan terhadap hak asasi manusia berlangsung di hadapannya. Tapi dari sudut pandang George semua it ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong description language (combine needed?) 4 36 Aug 05, 2014 05:14PM  
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Born in Budapest in 1929, Imre Kertész was imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1944, and then at Bunchenwald concentration camp. After the war and repatriation, the Soviet seizure of Hungary ended Kertész's brief career as a journalist. He turned to translation, specializing in German language works, and later emigrated to Berlin. Kertész was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002 for "writing that ...more
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“...I would like to live a little bit longer in this beautiful concentration camp.” 14 likes
“As we pass one step, and as we recognize it as being behind us, the next one already rises up before us. By the time we learn everything, we slowly come to understand it. And while you come to understand everything gradually, you don't remain idle at any moment: you are already attending to your new business; you live, you act, you move, you fulfill the new requirements of every new step of development. If, on the other hand, there were no schedule, no gradual enlightenment, if all the knowledge descended on you at once right there in one spot, then it's possible neither your brains nor your heart could bear it.” 8 likes
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