The first word in this mesmerizing novel by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is “No.” It is how the novel’s narrator, a middle-aged Hungarian-Jewish writer, answers an acquaintance who asks him if he has a child. It is the answer he gave his wife (now ex-wife) years earlier when she told him that she wanted one. The loss, longing and regret that haunt the years between those two “no”s give rise to one of the most eloquent meditations ever written on the Holocaust.
As Kertesz’s narrator addresses the child he couldn’t bear to bring into the world he ushers readers into the labyrinth of his consciousness, dramatizing the paradoxes attendant on surviving the catastrophe of Auschwitz. Kaddish for the Unborn Child is a work of staggering power, lit by flashes of perverse wit and fueled by the energy of its wholly original voice.
Translated by Tim Wilkinson
“Condenses a lifetime into a story told in a single night . . . exhilarating for [its] creative energy.” —World Literature
“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. upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history.” --The Swedish Academy, awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature 2002
“Disturbing yet lyrical . . . a seamless burst of introspection that is painful in its intensity and despair.” --Library Journal (starred review)
“Stunning . . . resembles such other memorably declamatory fictions as Camus’ The Fall and Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground.” —Kirkus Reviews