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Kaddish for an Unborn Child (The Holocaust series)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,052 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
The first word in this mesmerizing novel by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is “No.” It is how the novel’s narrator, a middle-aged Hungarian-Jewish writer, answers an acquaintance who asks him if he has a child. It is the answer he gave his wife (now ex-wife) years earlier when she told him that she wanted one. The loss, longing and regret that haunt the years ...more
ebook, 128 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Diane S ☔
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our unnamed writer/translator writes to his unborn child, a child he unequivocally refused to bring into this world, an astounding NO the answer he gave to his then wife when she asked for a child. A man who tries very hard to explain his thoughts, his rationality about his decision to not father a child. A man who had been imprisoned, like the author himself, in Auschwitz which left him with a great deal survivor guilt, and trying to make sense of a world that would allow something like this to ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, short, dense, post-Holocaust novel by Kertész, who probably didn't win the Nobel Prize solely on this one's strength. I've only read his Detective Story (by a different translator) and should soon at least get to Fatelessness, so I'm not sure how this fits among his other novels, but it feels very real as it digresses, loops back on itself, repeats images (a bald woman in a dress in front of a mirror [what he thinks about when he thinks about his so-called Jewishness]; writing as diggin ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Về Auschwitz không có lời giải thích”

Nỗi ám ảnh kinh hoàng về Auschwitz chỉ vỏn vẹn trong một câu ấy nhưng cả tác phẩm là một quá trình đấu tranh với chính mình của tác giả, một người từng sống trong những trại tập trung khắc nghiệt và man rợ của phát xít Đức.
Nỗi đau, quá khứ đau thương ấy một lần nữa rỉ máu khi tác giả đặt bút xuống và viết chúng thành câu chữ...

P.S: Rất muốn tìm sách để đọc lại một lần nữa.
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
September 2016
Reading this for a second time, now as a group read. The discussion is thought provoking and is enhancing my understanding of the book.
Finished for a second time- there ar a lot of layers to the book. Beautiful and moving writing, and I'll probably read it another time at some stage.

April 2016
I found this book difficult, both emotionally and because its style is complicated. I intend to re-read it at some stage, especially if I can do this as a readalong, so that I have people to d
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a great and dark autobiographical book, speaking impossible truths with brazen and an often almost obscene courage... a courage so courageous it becomes obscene.

echoing bernhard -- whom kertesz has translated -- this is a great monologue of negation and destruction, which nonetheless (hopelessly) creates. speaking about the one thing that saved him ("albeit it saved me for the sake of destruction"), i.e. his work, kertesz writes, "In those years I recognized my life for what it was: as a fact on
Seth the Zest
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
While I had planned to read only twenty pages today because the books so dense, I found myself so drawn into the book that I had to finish almost all of it in one burst. I realized after a few pages that a paragraph hadn't ended and so I naturally wanted to see when it would so I could put the book down and go do something else. I believe it lasted twenty pages. So I then looked for a logical stopping point but couldn't find one. And one thing led to another and I finished it as if in a dream. T ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Η ομορφιά του έγκειται ακριβώς στις υπερβολικά μακροσκελείς προτάσεις, στην έλλειψη κεφαλαίων και παραγράφων. Είναι ένας τρόπος γραφής που σε συνεπαίρνει. Μεταβαίνει από τον έναν συνειρμό στον άλλον αστραπιαία και συχνά "το χάνεις" και επιστρέφεις στην αρχή της πρότασης.

Ο συγγραφέας μας παρουσιάζει τα εσώψυχά του και το κεντρικό θέμα του βιβλίου είναι η άρνησή του να αποκτήσει απογόνους. Η άρνησή του, γενικότερα, προς έναν τυπικό τρόπο ζωής (δουλεύω, βγάζω χρήματα, επιτυγχάνω επαγγελματικά, παν
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shoah
This piercing unbroken paragraph novella ups the emotional and philosophical ante concerning the Shoah and leaves only scorched earth and tattered memories in its wake. Throughout the work there a number of nods to Bernhard, whereas Kertesz further gilds the homage to the Austrian with trademark recurrences and stilted rhythms. These circumstances extend beyond, of course. The decision reached is also an imperative, one which still bears considerable weight.
Kris McCracken
Kaddish for a Child Not Born by Imre Kertész is one of a series of four novels which examine the life of a man who survives the Nazi concentration camps of World War II.

If Fatelessness offered a relatively conventional narrative approach, Kaddish for an Unborn Child, written fifteen years later, is anything but. It is a difficult novel of repetition and ambiguity, the narrator acknowledging all his uncertainty, and constantly reminding the reader of the difficulty of exact expression. In many re
Brandon Prince
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kertész is inspired by Thomas Bernhard, but surpasses him. Rarely have the contradictions and unity between domination and freedom been so powerfully realized in a work of fiction. A definitive work of critical holocaust literature, Kaddish draws attention to the tenuous threshold that connects the horrors of Auschwitz to the banal assimilations of everyday life. Absolutely brilliant. One of the greatest books I have ever read.
Chim Cụt

Hồi nhỏ, nếu bất chợt được nghe những con chiên của Chúa đọc kinh, một nỗi sợ hãi không tên cứ chạy khắp người làm tui lạnh tóc gáy, như thể vừa bị một sức mạnh vô hình bủa vây. Vì họ phát ra những âm thanh tui thắc mắc liệu nó có phải tiếng mẹ đẻ - tui đã nghĩ Chúa dạy họ ngôn ngữ riêng của Người. Vì họ đọc liền tù tì tui không biết nên nghỉ chỗ nào để nghe tiếp hay thậm chí để họ hít thở. Vì, quan trọng hơn cả, họ tạo nên bầu không khí dâng tràn sự thiêng liên
Du Nguyen
Điểm: 5.5/10
Một tiểu thuyết ngắn được viết bằng văn phong quá dài dòng, rườm rà, trùng lặp
Toàn bộ cuốn tiểu thuyết ngắn này là dòng hồi tưởng của nhân vật chính, một nhà văn Do Thái, đã từng trải qua cuộc sống trong trại tập trung Auschwitz, có cách hồi tưởng, hay đại loại như thế, quá rườm rà, có rất nhiều chỗ trùng lặp không cần thiết, theo mục đích của tác giả, sử dụng rất ít dấu chấm câu để tạo nên hiệu ứng liền mạch và rối rắm trong suy tưởng của nhân vật chính và ngăn chặn người đọc dừng l
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eslavófila
Ese "¡No!" Con el que empieza el libro es un "No", que atraviesa todo el libro. Una negación a muchas cosas, a un hijo, empecemos por ahí. Pero también a poder soltar el pasado, un pasado duro y terrible, un pasado que hace a IK, porque de entrada este libro no tiene nada de ficción, o no lo parece. Kertész vivió cosas terribles, y sobrevivió a Auschwitz, pero sus heridas llegan más profundamente, ya que llega a decir que para el estar en el campo de concentración es una extensión de la educació ...more
Andreea Ursu-Listeveanu

A very, very heavy read. Both from the point of view of Kertesz's style and of the subject. A broken man, a very broken Jewish man who had a sad childhood, a tough father, no mother, and if that weren't enough, he is a survivor of Auschwitz. No wonder he cannot fully belong to someone, he cannot love himself, he couldn't love a child. So he writes and pours all his sadness, his hatred, his loneliness, in words. He also spends his time telling his wife what his father, Auschwitz, and life itself
Κατερίνα Μαλακατέ
Όταν πρωτοδιάβασα το «Καντίς για ένα αγέννητο παιδί»- λίγο μετά την εποχή που πήρε ο Ίμρε Κέρτες το Νόμπελ- ήμουν σε μια διαφορετική φάση ζωής κι η stream of consciousness γραφή του, που μου θύμισε έντονα Μπέρνχαρντ, με άγγιξε αλλά δε με συγκλόνισε. Κοντά δέκα χρόνια μετά ξαναγύρισα στο Καντίς, γιατί μάλλον είχαμε αφήσει ανοιχτούς λογαριασμούς κι η κραυγή του συγγραφέα είχε πάνω μου πολύ μεγαλύτερο αντίκτυπο.

Η νουβέλα ξεκινά με ένα εμφατικό «Όχι», όχι στη συνέχιση της ζωής, στη διαιώνιση του είδ
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were parts, formally and tonally, that reminded me of Ponge's Soap and Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground. However, the prose in Kaddish feels far less intentional or purposeful than either of those texts it is resembling. While I understand and appreciate what this book is trying to accomplish -- a painfully honest psychological portrait of its author through unmediated stream of consciousness -- for me it falls short aesthetically. The formal structure it seems to be following in th ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish
To begin with: I'm not a fan of uber-long sentences. They actually drive me mad, more often than not. But I'm glad, very glad indeed, that I kept on reading. Kertész writes with much tenderness and fury and disarming frankness. Definitely a book I'd recommend to anyone who is even remotely interested in literature by Holocaust survivors. Don't let the long sentences put you off reading it.
Previous to picking up Imre Kertesz' Kaddish for an Unborn Child for my Around the World in 80 Books challenge, I had read one of his novels, Liquidation, which I bought whilst in Budapest. As with Liquidation, this novella is a meditation on the Holocaust, and also features literary translator B. as its protagonist. In the highly autobiographical Kaddish for an Unborn Child, B. 'addresses the child he couldn't bear to bring into the world, [and] takes readers on a mesmerising, lyrical journey t ...more
“No!” I will never forget: Kaddish for an Unborn Child by Imre Kertész

Abridged version of my review posted on Edith’s Miscellany on 22 November 2013

The Kaddish is the Jewish prayer for the dead. The narrating protagonist writes his Kaddish for an Unborn Child or to be precise for a son or daughter who could have been, but never even was conceived because he always refused to bring children into a world in which Auschwitz, Buchenwald and concentrations camps like them had been possible. It’s the
Mariana Orantes
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
El libro empieza con un ¡NO!. Después, desmenuza las preocupaciones del personaje principal: B, un autor y traductor que tiene pequeños tintes autobiográficos de Kértesz. La novela, después, a la manera de un ensayo, habla del entorno, vivencias y cuestiones personales desarrolladas. Cómo los judíos se asumen, qué hace él como escritor, porqué el mal tiene una explicación y el bien no tiene lógica y así. Sin embargo, también se cuenta una historia. Él, su vida, su ex-esposa, los hijos que no lle ...more
Krocht Ehlundovič
Uf, a tough book, author style, content, problem which is narrated by a main character (two times divorced man without children) and... Well, I was shocked a little bit by his style - very long sentences (one or two pages long sentences) - this reminded me the modern novel wave (J. Joyce), then the content of those sentences - "yes-no" ideas, like the author would talk to you without preparation and concept (just apparently) and directly - so I had to be very focused and concentrated, plus lost ...more
This is a pretty amazing book. It is undeniably difficult to read, with extremely long sentences and stream of consciousness narrative. However, the author certainly captured the inner life of a tortured and traumatized Holocaust survivor. The poor man in this book is just trying to get through life, but he has so much horror in his head that works against him, that he can never get away from. It's sad. It's also frightening, because humans did this to each other.

Kertész was awarded the Nobel Pr
Mar 30, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bir kimlik bunalımının, içsel bir hesaplaşmanın, tarihin bir ulusa dayatmış olduğu güçlüklerle perçinlendiğaslkabişlsdjaklf :D Şaka yapıyorum sevgili kitapseverler, kitap bir şeye benzemiyor. Güçbela bitirdiğim nadir kitaplardan biriydi "Doğmayacak Çocuk İçin Dua". Ne anlattığı, neden yazıldığı belli olmayan bir sözcük yığınıydı benim için. Bir kere okuması çok güç ve sıkıcıydı. Hiç paragraf yok. Baştan sona kadar çölde yürür gibi okuyorsunuz. 80'li sayfalardan sonra birkaç ilgi çekici satır göz ...more
I don't get what's going on
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of art
Kaddish for an Unborn Child is truly worthy of its esteem, and Imre Kertesz is absolutely worthy of his Nobel Prize. I read the Wilkinson translation, unaware that there was another translation available. Now that I know it has been translated before, I am curious to see for myself how they differ in language, poetics and style.

I found the Wilkinson translation haunting, musical with a unique rhythm to its words. How do you describe something that is so perfectly beautiful? The stream-of-conscio
Farhan Khalid
No! I said instantly without hesitation

Since it has become quite natural by now that our instincts should act contrary to our instincts


There is no getting around explanations

We are constantly explaining and excusing ourselves

Life itself, that inexplicable complex of being and feeling, demands explanations of us

Those around us demands explanations

In the end we ourselves demand explanations of ourselves

Until in the end we succeed in annihilating everything around us

In other words expla
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
…Скрипки мрачнее чтоб голос ваш дымом густым воспарил в облаках обретешь ты могилу там где не тесно. Целан. Фуга смерти

Хотя в то же время я, конечно, хочу вспоминать, но, хочу или не хочу, выхода у меня нет: если я пишу, я вспоминаю, должен вспоминать, хотя не знаю, почему должен: наверное, ради знания, ведь воспоминание — знание, мы затем и живем, чтобы помнить о том, что мы знаем, потому что нельзя забывать, что узнали, и не бойтесь, ребята, это не какой-то там «моральный долг», полно; просто
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel of destruction. It is negative. It is tough to read. That being said, it is worth it. The novel is short, and follows the memory of a man explaining to his friend that he can not bring a child into the world given the horrors of the Holocaust, and the fact that the underlying causes of the Holocaust have not been remedied. He is an unhappy and unlucky man – failing in his career and failing in his own marriage. It is a novel of despair.

Kertesz’s style is quite difficult to read.
Dara Salley
This short novel takes place entirely inside the nervous, active mind of its narrator. The stream of consciousness that we are privy to is prompted by a question posed by a philosopher-acquaintance on an artistic retreat. He asks the narrator if he has any children. This leads to a long chain of thought that encompasses the narrator’s history, philosophy and love life. He describes why his answer to that question is difficult.

This book was written as one long stream of consciousness. There are n
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kaddis: ősrégi ima, mely "egyértelműen Isten dicsőítéséről szól", "a gyásszal sújtott hozzátartozók ezzel (...) azt szeretnék kifejezésre juttatni, hogy súlyos fájdalmuk ellenére sem veszítették el hitüket."
Mi is ez a könyv? Szerintem egyetlen mély lélegzetvételre kiadott vallomás, önmarcangolás, egy tönkretett élet magából kiokádott krédója. Könyv arról, amiről sem beszélni, sem írni nem lehet, mégis beszélni és írni kell. Könyv arról, ami feldolgozhatatlan, s amelynek feldogozása mégis egy tel
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew
  • Badenheim 1939
  • Mendelssohn is on the Roof
  • The Last of the Just
  • Love and Exile
  • The Pendragon Legend
  • A Guest in My Own Country: A Hungarian Life
  • Skylark
  • Yosl Rakover Talks to God
  • Celestial Harmonies
  • Niki: The Story of a Dog
  • Götz and Meyer
  • Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory
  • Szent Péter esernyője
  • Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship
  • Sepharad
  • The Reawakening
  • Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with Sons and Daughters of Survivors
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
More about Imre Kertész...

Other Books in the Series

The Holocaust series (4 books)
  • Fatelessness
  • Fiasco
  • Liquidation

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“I read somewhere; while God still existed one sustained a dialogue with God, and now that He no longer exists one has to sustain a dialogue with other people, I guess, or, better still, with oneself, that is to say, one talks or mumbles to oneself.” 7 likes
“I have felt that some sort of awful shame is attached to my name and that I have somehow brought this shame along from somewhere I have never been, and that I have carried this sin as my sin even though I have never committed it; this sin pursues me all my life, which life is undoubtedly not my own even thought I live it , I suffer from it die of it.” 4 likes
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