Imre Kertesz, RIP

The Hungarian writer and Nobel Prize winner, Imre Kertesz has died (Thursday, March 31). His first novel, Fateless, is a strange and moving story of a boy (the boy Kertesz was) sent to a concentration camp in 1944. The boy's survival and Kertesz's were chronicled in two subsequent novels that departed from the usual account of holocaust survivors.

My review of Dossier K, a memoir, as stirring and elusive as his novels, tried to capture the interlarded account of the actual life and imagined life of a writer who expressed the perfect irony of survivng Nazism only to be suppressed by Communism. In a supreme irony, he spent many years in Berlin, where a younger generation of Germans welcomed the accounts of his life and the suppressed lives of the Nazi generation. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by the Germans while Hungarians long refused to publish his works.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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