Kaddish for an Unborn Child

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Vintage International, 2004 - Fiction - 120 pages
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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 between those two “no”s give rise to one of the most eloquent meditations ever written on the Holocaust.

As Kertesz’s narrator addresses the child he couldn’t bear to bring into the world he ushers readers into the labyrinth of his consciousness, dramatizing the paradoxes attendant on surviving the catastrophe of Auschwitz. Kaddish for the Unborn Child is a work of staggering power, lit by flashes of perverse wit and fueled by the energy of its wholly original voice.
Translated by Tim Wilkinson

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Kaddish for an Unborn Child (Vintage International)

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Two haunting tales of the Holocaust by Nobel winner Kertsz. The autobiographical Fatelessness (1975) follows an outcast 14-year-old boy's observations of Auschwitz. Kaddish (1990) finds a man mourning his wife, killed by the Nazis, and the child he never had. Heartbreaking. Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Imre Kertész, 1929 - Imre Kertész was born in Budapest in 1929. With 7,000 other Hungarian Jews he was deported in 1944, at the age of fifteen, from Budapest to Auschwitz and liberated a year later at Buchenwald. Starting in 1948, he worked in Hungary as a journalist with the daily Világosság. He was dismissed in 1951 and conscripted into the army for two years. Since 1953 Kertész has been living as a freelance writer and translator of German literature from Nietzsche to Freud. His first book, "Novel of a Man Without Destiny," was at first rejected by a state publishing company. It appeared in a limited edition in 1975 under the title "Man Without Destiny." It was denied all publicity. During the decades that he worked on this autobiographical novel, Kertész supported himself by writing light pieces for the theatre. The novel appeared in German in 1990. Galley Diary published in 1992, covers the years 1961 to 1991. In his novel "Fiasco," published in 1988, the hero, a journalist, bears the unmistakable traits of the author. Lastly, "Kaddish for an Unborn Child" was published in German in 1992, completing his trilogy. In 1998 Kertész presented a second diary, "I, A Different Person" which documented the years from 1991 to 1995. With fellow writer, Péter Esterházy he published a volume of stories, "A Story, Two Stories" in 1994. Kertész was awarded the Brandenburg Literature Prize in 1995, The Book Prize for European Understanding, Leipzig 1997, the Darmstadt Academy Prize in 1997, the Order "pour le mérite," the World Literature Prize for 2000 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in October of 2002.

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