Susan's Reviews > Fatelessness

Fatelessness by Imre Kertész
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's review
Jul 04, 2009

really liked it
Read in July, 2009

Title is sort of hard to figure out, in either translation. This is a holocaust story narrated by a young boy who's taken from Budapest . He's a non-practicing Jew with no knowledge of Yiddish and few connections to Jewish traditions. He's an acute observer and attempts to make readers understand what life in the camps was like. without bothering about issues of politics or religion. He knew some German from school and learned more but could not communicate with many of his fellows who spoke Czech, Slovak, Polish, a gypsy dialect, etc. His tone is detached and reportorial. He concentrates on what happens to him and how he feels. He seems isolated with the crowds of prisoners who, in additional to the language barrier, were often in competition with each other and who disappeared frequently. His goal is to adjust and survive. He accepts his isolation even when he goes home, where neither those who ignore him nor those who are horrified at what happened to him and want to publicize his story are able to understand his experience.

I rated it 8/10. The beginning particularly is riveting. Near the end the boy's ambivalence about what happens to him and maybe the translation (the version I read is supposed to be a poor translation) result in a less than clear message, though maybe that's the point. I liked this book particularly because it doesn't rave and rant about politics or religion or atrocities, but instead seeks to recreate an experience.

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