Monday, October 17, 2005

Book 54: Fateless, by Imre Kert├ęsz

This book by the Hungarian Nobel Prize winner is no easy read. The story is semi-autobiographical, as the author himself spent some time in various concentration camps during World War II. The novel begins with a young man's eyes-wide-open observations of his father's departure for a labor camp. After his father leaves, the teenager is allowed to cross city boundary lines in order to work in a local factory. Before long, though, he and the boys with whom he works are taken aside and themselves loaded on the trains that are transporting numbers of Jews to the concentration camps.

Once he arrives, our narrator describes the conditions with a frankness that can be disturbing. Even so, the main character has an odd optimism and acceptance of what is occurring around him even as he is seeing death, illness and abuse. When he returns home to Hungary, the situation isn't necessarily an improvement in his eyes. Look for a movie adaptation of the book to be released in theaters in 2006.

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