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Fatelessness

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Fatelessness Cover

ISBN13: 9781400078639
ISBN10: 1400078636
Condition: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"Fatelessness, 2002 Nobel Laureate Imre Kertesz's first novel, was originally published in 1975, and has now been republished in a new translation. It is a book strange and vivid, chilling and engrossing all at once." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

At the age of 14 Georg Koves is plucked from his home in a Jewish section of Budapest and without any particular malice, placed on a train to Auschwitz. He does not understand the reason for his fate. He doesn't particularly think of himself as Jewish. And his fellow prisoners, who decry his lack of Yiddish, keep telling him, "You are no Jew." In the lowest circle of the Holocaust, Georg remains an outsider.

The genius of Imre Kertesz's unblinking novel lies in its refusal to mitigate the strangeness of its events, not least of which is Georg's dogmatic insistence on making sense of what he witnesses — or pretending that what he witnesses makes sense. Haunting, evocative, and all the more horrifying for its rigorous avoidance of sentiment, Fatelessness is a masterpiece in the traditions of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Tadeusz Borowski.

Review:

"Remarkable...[A]n original and chilling quality, surpassed only by Primo Levi?s Survival in Auschwitz." The New York Review of Books

Review:

"In his writing Imre Kertesz explores the possibility of continuing to live and think as an individual in an era in which the subjection of human beings to social forces has become increasingly complete....[He] upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history." The Swedish Academy, The Nobel Prize in Literature 2002

Review:

"[S]hould be savored slowly...Only through exploring its subtlety and detail will the reader come to appreciate such an ornate and honest testimony to the human spirit." The Washington Times

Review:

"Kertesz's spare, understated prose and the almost ironic perspective of Gyorgy, limited both by his youth and his inability to perceive the enormity of what he is caught up in, give the novel an intensity that will make it difficult to forget." Publishers Weekly

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Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

George W Bush, June 13, 2014 (view all comments by George W Bush)
The novel Fatelessness, by Imre Kertesz, is a coming of age story centered around a young boy named Gyuri Koves, who is sent to the Nazi concentration camps at the tender age of 14. Through his haunting and atrocious experiences, Gyuri grows dramatically as a human being, learning to unite his conflicting identities and how to continue living his life post-world war II.
This novel is written from a unique perspective that is uncommon amongst novels about the holocaust. Gyuri seems to enjoy the death camps, focusing more on what he describes as the happiness he experiences in the camps. Each page vividly illustrates Gyuri’s emotions so effectively that is puts the reader into his shoes. However, this is not a typical immersion of reader to character. Gyuri’s perspective on his circumstances and how he reacts to his surroundings will completely contrast that of the readers, which provokes the reader to continuously attempt to justify his actions. This perspective will absolutely engage and perplex the most rational of minds, as the reader will experience again and again intense frustration at Gyuri’s indifference to much of what is happening to him.
Kertesz excellently depicts Gyuri’s conflict of identity, which a large portion of readers can attempt to relate to to a certain extent. Unfamiliar with his Jewish identity and deemed sub-human by the majority of Hungarians, Gyuri is left in the middle of an identity crisis, which ultimately contributes to his indifference to much of what is occurring around and to him. This indifference is the technique the author of this novel uses in order to convey this conflict of identity.
Fatelessness is not like other novels written by and about the Holocaust. Similar to other novels about the Holocaust, Fatelessness explains how horrible the death camps were accurately and in detail; from gas-chambers to abuse. However, what sets this novel apart is ultimately Gyuri’s method of survival. With a small amount of luck and a twisted outlook on his circumstances, Gyuri manages to stay alive even in the worst conditions. And what is even more fascinating is how he is able to adjust to life after the camp. Gyuri returns how to his family and friends when his camp is liberated, and is questioned about his experiences. He does not give a traditional response. His response is relatively nonchalant and brief, which is staying true to his character. This will baffle the reader and shock them one last time before the end of this novel.
The title of this novel is a profound one. As the novel progresses, it gains more meaning. When beginning Fatelessness, I was completely clueless as to what the title could mean. I hypothesized that it could mean the novel would have a bitter-sweet ending. However, as I continued reading, the title gained a sort of momentum, and I quickly began putting things together as if this novel was a puzzle. Through his crisis of identity, discrimination, and unique attitude towards his experiences, I learned that the world Fatelessness harbored a much deeper, revealing concept. Rather than being a simple word meant for foreshadowing, I learned that Fatelessness was Gyuri’s gained understanding of how he would survive after the holocaust. Simply put, Gyuri’s fatelessness was how he was able to reconcile with what he had gone through, and ultimately how he would move on.
I would recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys being challenged on both an intellectual and emotional level. This is a refreshing and beautifully written novel.
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samuel28987, June 13, 2014 (view all comments by samuel28987)
Fatelessness, a new and refreshing depiction of the Jewish Holocaust experience. Although strange and even surreal at times the novel captures the reader’s attention through the interesting viewpoint of Gyuri, a young Jewish boy. Gyuri’s experiences themselves are commonplace among Holocaust survivors, but when one delves deeper into his ever changing mindset we can only begin to grasp the genius of Kertész. As Gyuri’s body deteriorates in the concentration camps his thoughts become extreme to the point of insanity. However, there is a method to this madness. Again we discover the genius of Kertész as important ideas and themes are revealed through closer readings of the passages. At this point the reader’s mind will feel a tingling of excitement as he or she analyses the inner workings of the novel. The real deal-breaker comes when Gyuri arrives home and experiences revelations that will drench the reader’s face in sweat. These revelations provoke one’s own thoughts about life and even the purpose of our existence. One might describe the end of the novel as a sensual build-up to the eventual orgasmic sensation of the mind that will be experienced when the last sentence is finished.
I have left the specifics of these ideas and themes out to not spoil the pleasure the reader will be rewarded with as he or she works to interpret Gyuri’s harsh, but enlightening journey.
Now that being said it would only be reasonable for you to have the uncontrollable temptation to go ham on this novel.
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RZ, June 12, 2014 (view all comments by RZ)
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.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400078639
Translator:
Wilkinson, Tim
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Translator:
Wilkinson, Tim
Author:
&
Author:
eacute
Author:
Wilkinson, Tim
Author:
Kertesz, Imre
Author:
Imre Kert
Author:
E
Author:
Kertisz, Imre
Author:
sz, Cs.
Author:
Kerta(c)Sz, Imre
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Budapest (Hungary)
Subject:
Holocaust, jewish (1939-1945)
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
20040831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
7.96x5.32x.61 in. .44 lbs.

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Related Subjects

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Fatelessness Used Trade Paper
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9781400078639 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Fatelessness, 2002 Nobel Laureate Imre Kertesz's first novel, was originally published in 1975, and has now been republished in a new translation. It is a book strange and vivid, chilling and engrossing all at once." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "Remarkable...[A]n original and chilling quality, surpassed only by Primo Levi?s Survival in Auschwitz."
"Review" by , "In his writing Imre Kertesz explores the possibility of continuing to live and think as an individual in an era in which the subjection of human beings to social forces has become increasingly complete....[He] upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history."
"Review" by , "[S]hould be savored slowly...Only through exploring its subtlety and detail will the reader come to appreciate such an ornate and honest testimony to the human spirit."
"Review" by , "Kertesz's spare, understated prose and the almost ironic perspective of Gyorgy, limited both by his youth and his inability to perceive the enormity of what he is caught up in, give the novel an intensity that will make it difficult to forget."
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