Kertesz, I: The Pathseeker
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"There's no such thing as chance...only injustice."
From the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature for "writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history..."
The acclaimed Hungarian Holocaust survivor Imre Kertész continues his investigation of the malignant methodologies of totalitarianism in a major work of fiction.
In a mysterious middle-European country, a man identified only as "the commissioner" undertakes what seems to be a banal trip to a nondescript town with his wife-a brief detour on the way to a holiday at the seaside-that turns into something ominous. Something terrible has happened in the town, something that no one wants to discuss. With his wife watching on fearfully, he commences a perverse investigation, rudely interrogating the locals, inspecting a local landmark with a frightening intensity, traveling to an outlying factory where he confronts the proprietors ... and slowly revealing a past he's been trying to suppress.
In a limpid translation by Tim Wilkinson, this haunting tale lays bare an emotional and psychological landscape ravaged by totalitarianism in one of Kertsz's most devastating examinations of the responsibilities of and for the Holocaust.
Imre Kertesz was born in Budapest in 1929. At age 15 he was deported to Auschwitz, then Buchenwald, and finally to a subcamp at Zeitz, to labor in a factory where Nazi scientists were trying to convert coal into motor fuel. Upon liberation in 1945 he worked as a journalist before being fired for not adhering to the Communist party doctrine. After a brief service in the Hungarian Army, he devoted himself to writing, although as a dissident he was forced to live under Spartan circumstances. Nonetheless he stayed in Hungary after the failed 1956 uprising, continuing to write plays and fiction in near–anonymity and supporting himself by translating from the German writers such as Joseph Roth, Freud, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. He remained little–known until 1975, when he published his first book,
Fatelesseness, a novel about a teenage boy sent to a concentration camp. It became the first book of a trilogy that eventually included
The Failure and
Kaddish for an Unborn Child. Subsequent titles include
Union Jack, and, most recently, a memoir,
The File on K. In 2002, Kertesz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He lives in Budapest and Berlin.
Tim Wilkinson is the primary English translator of Imre Kertesz as well as numerous other significant works of Hungarian history and literature. In 2005, his translation of Kertesz's
Fatelessness was awarded the PEN Club/Book of the Month Club Translation Prize. He lives in London.