Friday, April 06, 2007

Fateless - Imre Kertesz

"What ? Do you still want to live" , the German voice was heard being told to the one of the body thrown to the cart before taken away for clearing, fourteen year old Gyuri hoped it was not going to be painful. I would like to live a little bit longer in this beautiful concentration camp.

Anther story of endurance and survival of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald being told years after the end of 2nd worldwar. The literary world has given us so many untold stories of survival and here is one of the important book, may not be the best ( of what I read I liked Elie Weisel )

Imre Kertesz, the winner of Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 2002 comes out with his version of the concentration camp in the eyes of a 14 year old boy from Hungary. This book, which is said to be semi-autobiographical focusses on the endurance and survival of the young boy. The novel starts with a holiday in school for Gyuri as his father was asked to join the labor service from the next day. They wanted to spend the day together. Within few months,he too was asked to disembark the vehicle he was travelling to work and was joined the other group of people from Hungary in a train to Auschwitz and later to Buchenwald. On arrival, he join the elders lying about his age and he see the boys, injured and unfit being taken away, presumably to the gas chambers as he hear later.

After the initial surprises and the rumors and stories about the gas chambers and the tents and works, there is no pictures of the torture and humiliation being told here unlike most of the holocaust movies and novels. Because he does not speak Hebrew , he becomes an outcast among his people and barring few, he does not have any friends in the camp. Like everyone in the camp, he too grow immune to the feelings of life and nothing ever matters to him. He does not feel pain while beaten, does not feel pain while they nurse his wound, not even hungry. This make him sick and he spend the major part of his life in the hospital bed between life and death until, one day they are announced free to leave the camp to their home.

The book was written in Hungarian in 1975 after 30 years of the second world war and will definitely haunt you for few days. however, from a literary point of view, this book does not belong to the elite group, irrespective of the Nobel Committee's recognition.

You can read an interview of Imre Kertesz at

Fateless is now being made as a motion picture in Hungarian.

by Imre Kertesz ( Hungarian translated by Tim Wilkinson )
262 Pages
Rs 438/-
Vintage Books

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