Summer Reading B2G1 Free

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

Customer Comments

RZ has commented on (1) product.

Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz

RZ, June 12, 2014

Fatelessness, while he will not admit to it, mirrors Imre Kertész's own Holocaust experiences. The main character, Gyuri, shares many qualities with Kertész: both were young non-believing Jews from Hungary that were sent to the infamously atrocious concentration camps of Buchenwald and Auschwitz-Birkenau. In addition to the Holocaust, Kertész experienced Stalin's Communist Revolution, the Hungarian revolution, and the Hungarian occupation; all of which seem to have contributed to Kertész's accreditation as one of the leading Holocaust contemporary authors.
In Fatelessness, the reader is put through the emotional twists and turns of a young boy’s convoluted journey through one of the most egregious events in human history. Kertész creates many confusing scenarios by giving Gyuri emotions that conflict with what emotion the reader would normally think the scene should create. Because of his expert use of this technique, Kertész is able to create a high level of interaction. From the first page to the last, the reader is all but forced to feel extreme emotions. By using this extreme time in Europe as the setting Kertész can simply mention a word like “Birkenau” or a phrase like “gas-chambers” to create images of destruction in the mind.
The book is chock full of intense imagery, pungent with the stench of burning bodies and despair. As Gyuri describes it, the crematorium made the camp smell like they were in “some fetid swamp.” As Gyuri spends the days doing manual labor, it is hard to not feel emotionally tired; and as familiar characters slowly start to disappear, is is hard, as the reader, to not feel a bit of sadness for their fallen fictional friend.
Gyuri’s shortfalls come in his delusional failure to come to terms with the pointlessness of the Nazi’s actions. Some could say that is also his way of surviving. By focusing on the strange happiness of the death camps instead of the brutality, Gyuri is able to make it through the camps and back home. This unconventional Holocaust novel imparts on the reader that an alternative, and what some might call twisted, perspective, in conjunction with a bit of luck, can help an individual make it through the most hopeless scenarios.
Read this book for a cerebral experience that will not only draw you in, but make you participate in its intense emotion.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at