Gyuri, a fourteen-year-old Hungarian Jew, gets the day off school to witness his father signing over the family timber business to the firm's bookkeeper - his final business transaction before being sent to a labour camp. Two months after saying goodbye to his father, Gyuri finds himself assigned to a 'permanent workplace', but within a fortnight ...
Gyuri, a fourteen-year-old Hungarian Jew, gets the day off school to witness his father signing over the family timber business to the firm's bookkeeper - his final business transaction before being sent to a labour camp. Two months after saying goodbye to his father, Gyuri finds himself assigned to a 'permanent workplace', but within a fortnight he is unexpectedly pulled off a bus and detained without explanation. This is the start of his journey to Auschwitz. On his arrival Gyuri finds that he is unable to identify with other Jews, and in turn is rejected by them. An outsider among his own people, his estrangement makes him a preternaturally acute observer, dogmatically insisting on making sense of everything he witnesses.
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Publishers Weekly, 1992-08-24 Kertesz ( Kaddish for an Unborn Child ), who, as a youth, spent a year as a prisoner in Auschwitz, has crafted a superb, haunting novel that follows Gyorgy Koves, a 14-year old Hungarian Jew, during the year he is imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Fighting to retain his equilibrium when his world turns upside down, Gyorgy rationalizes that certain events are ``probably natural'' or ``probably a mistake.'' Gradual starvation and what he experiences as grinding boredom become a way of life for him, yet Gyorgy describes both Buchenwald and its guards as ``beautiful''; as he asks ``who can judge what is possible or believable in a concentration camp?'' Gyorgy also comes to a sense of himself as a Jew. At first, he experiences a strong distaste for the Jewish-looking prisoners; he doesn't know Hebrew (for talking to God) or Yiddish (for talking to other Jews). Fellow inmates even claim Gyorgy is ``no Jew,'' and make him feel he isn't ``entirely okay.'' 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. One learns something of concentration camp life here, even while becoming convinced that one cannot understand that life at all--not the way Kertesz does. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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