Author: Imre Kertész
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.
Kertesz’s unblinking novel lies in its refusal to mitigate the strangeness of its events, not the least of which is Georg’s dogmatic insistence on making sense of what he witnesses. Sometimes, Georg even pretends that what he witnesses makes sense, as a way to protect himself from the reality of the situation. The book is haunting, evocative, and all the more horrifying for its rigorous avoidance of sentiment.