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Sin destino

Sin destino

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Sin destino

valoraciones:
4/5 (15 valoraciones)
Longitud:
223 páginas
4 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
9 feb 2011
ISBN:
9788492649716
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Historia del año y medio de la vida de un adolescente en diversos campos de concentración nazis (experiencia que el autor vivió en propia carne), "Sin destino"no es, sin embargo, ningún texto autobiográfico. Con la fría objetividad del entomólogo y desde una distancia irónica, Kertész nos muestra en su historia la hiriente realidad de los campos de exterminio en sus efectos más eficazmente perversos: aquellos que confunden justicia y humillación arbitraria, y la cotidianidad más inhumana con una forma aberrante de felicidad. Testigo desapasionado, "Sin destino" es, por encima de todo, gran literatura, y una de las mejores novelas del siglo XX, capaz de dejar una huella profunda e imperecedera en el lector.

"Un libro imprescindible por su fuerza y emoción carentes de sentimentalismo. Para muchos la mejor novela jamás escrita sobre el holocausto y una de las más grandes obras europeas de la segunda mitad del siglo XX."
Herman Tertsch, El País

"Si no conocen Sin destino, búsquenlo sin tardar un instante".
Antoni Puigverd, La Vanguardia

"Kérstesz es uno de los intelectuales más sólidos de Europa."
Rafael Narbona, El Mundo

"Kertész es un pensador esencial del siglo XX y un gran escritor."
Cecilia Dreymüller, ABC

"Sin destino tiene un indudable interés histórico y humano."
Toni Montesinos, La Razón
Editorial:
Publicado:
9 feb 2011
ISBN:
9788492649716
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor


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Sin destino - Imre Kertész

IMRE

KERTÉSZ

SIN DESTINO

TRADUCCIÓN DEL HÚNGARO

DE JUDITH XANTUS

REVISIÓN DE

ADAN KOVACSICS

A C A N T I L A D O

BARCELONA  2011

1

Hoy no he ido a la escuela; mejor dicho, sólo fui para pedir permiso a la tutora y volver a casa. Le entregué la carta de mi padre, en la cual pedía que me dispensaran, alegando «razones familiares». Ella me preguntó cuáles eran esas razones familiares, y yo le contesté que a mi padre lo habían asignado a trabajos obligatorios. Dejó de incordiarme.

Al salir de la escuela, no fui a casa sino al almacén. Mi padre me había dicho que me esperarían allí. También dijo que debía darme prisa porque podían necesitarme. Por eso pidió que me dejaran faltar a la escuela. Quizá quería que estuviera «a su lado en el último día», cuando tenía que «abandonar a la familia», eso también lo dijo en otro momento. Habló con mi madre, si mal no recuerdo, por la mañana cuando le llamó por teléfono. Hoy es jueves, y mis tardes de los jueves y de los domingos, en realidad, le corresponden a ella. Mi padre le comunicó: «No te puedo dejar a György esta tarde», y entonces dio esa explicación. O tal vez no fue así. Yo tenía un poco de sueño esa mañana, debido a la alarma aérea de anoche, y a lo mejor no me acuerdo bien. Sin embargo, estoy seguro de que lo dijo, si no a mi madre, a otra persona.

Yo también intercambié algunas palabras con mi madre, aunque no recuerdo qué le dije. Creo que hasta se enfadó un poco conmigo, porque fui muy parco con ella, por la presencia de mi padre: al fin y al cabo hoy tengo que complacerlo a él.

Cuando salía para la escuela, también mi madrastra se sinceró conmigo. Estábamos a solas, en la entrada de casa y me dijo que en aquel día tan triste para todos nosotros esperaba «contar con un comportamiento adecuado» por mi parte. No sabía qué responderle, así pues no dije nada. Quizá haya interpretado mal mi silencio, porque continuó diciéndome que no había querido herir mi sensibilidad y que sabía que su advertencia era, en realidad, innecesaria. Estaba segura de que yo, un muchacho de quince años, era perfectamente capaz de calibrar la «gravedad del golpe que habíamos recibido»; ésas fueron sus palabras. Asentí con la cabeza y vi que con eso le bastaba. Entonces, hizo un gesto con la mano, y temí que fuera a abrazarme. No lo hizo, se limitó a soltar un largo y profundo suspiro entrecortado. Me di cuenta de que sus ojos se ponían húmedos; me sentí incómodo. Después, me dejó ir.

Fui andando desde la escuela hasta el almacén. Era una mañana limpia y tibia para ser el principio de la primavera. Hubiera podido desabrochar mi abrigo, pero desistí: la ligera brisa podía haber hecho que las solapas hubieran ocultado de manera antirreglamentaria mi estrella amarilla. De ahora en adelante tengo que cuidar más ciertos detalles. Nuestro almacén de maderas está cerca, en una de las calles laterales. Unas escaleras empinadas llevan a la oscuridad. Encontré a mi padre y a mi madrastra en la oficina, una pequeña cabina de vidrio, iluminada como los acuarios, justo al lado de la escalera. También estaba el señor Sütő, a quien conozco bien, porque fue nuestro contable y administrador de otro almacén que teníamos al aire libre y que luego él nos compró. O por lo menos eso decimos. El señor Sütő no tiene problemas de tipo racial ni lleva estrella amarilla y, de hecho, nos ayuda en nuestra situación legal, según yo sé, porque es él quien sigue administrando nuestros bienes para que nosotros no tengamos que prescindir de la totalidad de los beneficios.

Lo saludé con más consideración que de costumbre, puesto que de alguna manera ahora estaba por encima de nosotros: mi padre y mi madrastra también eran más amables con él. Él, sin embargo, se empeñaba en tratar a mi padre como su jefe y a mi madrastra la seguía llamando «mi señora», como si nada hubiese ocurrido, y continuaba besándole la mano cada vez que la veía. Aquel día a mí también me recibió con su tono campechano de siempre; no hacía caso de mi estrella amarilla. Me quedé de pie al lado de la puerta, y ellos continuaron con lo que habían interrumpido por mi llegada. Estaban intentando llegar a un acuerdo sobre algo, según entendí. Al principio no sabía de qué hablaban. Cerré los ojos por un momento, puesto que todavía estaba medio cegado por la intensa luz de la cabina. Entonces mi padre dijo algo que me sorprendió, y abrí los ojos. Observé el rostro redondo y moreno del señor Sütő, en el que destacaban un fino bigote, unos dientes grandes, muy blancos y ligeramente separados, y unas pequeñas manchas rojizas y amarillas, que parecían abscesos abriéndose. Mi padre dijo entonces algo sobre una «mercancía que convenía que el señor Sütő se llevara inmediatamente». El señor Sütő no tenía inconveniente, por lo que mi padre sacó un paquetito del cajón del escritorio que estaba envuelto en papel de seda y atado con un lazo. Entonces supe de qué mercancía se trataba: por su forma reconocí la caja que había en el paquete. La caja en la que guardábamos los objetos de valor y las joyas. Creo que lo llamaban mercancía para que yo no supiera de qué hablaban. El señor Sütő guardó enseguida el paquete en su cartera. A continuación, se enzarzaron en una pequeña discusión: el señor Sütő sacó su pluma estilográfica e insistió en firmar un recibo a mi padre por la mercancía. Mi padre respondió que se dejara de tonterías y que no necesitaba ningún papel. El señor Sütő estaba muy agradecido. «Ya sé que tiene usted confianza en mí, jefe, pero en la vida hay que seguir un orden y conservar ciertas formas», dijo. Después se dirigió a mi madrastra: «¿No opina usted lo mismo, mi señora?», preguntó, pero ella se limitó a sonreír y repuso que, por su parte, confiaba plenamente en las decisiones que ellos tomasen.

Cuando ya empezaba a aburrirme, el señor Sütő por fin se decidió a guardar su estilográfica y empezaron a hablar del tema del almacén. Debían tomar una decisión sobre el destino de todas aquellas tablas de madera. Mi padre opinaba que tenían que actuar inmediatamente, antes de que las autoridades «echaran mano al negocio», y le pidió al señor Sütő que con su experiencia profesional ayudara y aconsejara a mi madrastra en el asunto. «Naturalmente, mi señora. De todas formas, estaremos en contacto permanente por las cuentas», dijo el señor Sütő dirigiéndose a mi madrastra. Creo que se refería a nuestro antiguo almacén que ahora le pertenecía.

Finalmente, se despidió de nosotros. Retuvo la mano de mi padre durante un largo rato; la expresión de su rostro era seria y triste. Sin embargo, opinó que «no eran momentos para palabrerías».

«Hasta pronto, jefe», se despidió el señor Sütő. «Eso espero, señor Sütő», respondió mi padre con una leve sonrisa.

En ese momento, mi madrastra abrió su bolso de mano, extrajo un pañuelo y se lo llevó a los ojos, sollozando. Se produjo un silencio. La situación me resultó molesta, porque tuve la impresión de que yo también debía decir algo. Pero todo había acontecido con tanta rapidez que no se me ocurrió nada sensato. También el señor Sütő se sentía visiblemente incómodo. «Pero, mi señora, no haga esto, por favor. No debe hacerlo, de verdad que no», dijo, asustado.

Después se inclinó y casi dejó caer su boca en la mano de mi madrastra, para proceder a besarla como siempre. Corrió luego hacia la puerta y yo apenas tuve tiempo para hacerme a un lado. Se olvidó de despedirse de mí. Permanecimos en silencio escuchando sus lentos pasos por las escaleras de madera, hasta que mi padre dijo: «Bueno, ya está, otro peso que nos hemos quitado de encima.»

Entonces, mi madrastra le preguntó, en un tono velado, si no habría sido mejor aceptar aquel recibo del señor Sütő. Mi padre le respondió que aquel recibo carecía de «valor práctico» e incluso sería más peligroso tenerlo escondido que guardar la caja. Le explicó que estábamos obligados a jugarlo todo a una sola carta y a tener plena confianza en el señor Sütő, puesto que, a esas alturas, no nos quedaba otra solución. Mi madrastra permaneció callada por un momento, pero luego continuó diciendo que, aunque mi padre tuviera razón, ella estaría más tranquila con «un recibo en la mano». No supo explicar bien por qué.

Mi padre estaba obsesionado por el tiempo, porque aún tenían muchas cosas que hacer. Quería entregar a mi madrastra los libros de cuentas del almacén para que pudiera controlar y mantener el negocio mientras él estuviera en el campo de trabajo. También intercambió unas palabras conmigo. Me preguntó si había tenido problemas en la escuela. Después me dijo que me sentara y que estuviera tranquilo hasta que ellos terminaran con los libros.

Claro, ese trabajo requería mucho tiempo. Al principio no lo tomé con tranquilidad. Pensaba en mi padre y en que se iría al día siguiente, y probablemente no volvería a verlo durante mucho tiempo. Al cabo de un rato me cansé de pensar en eso y, puesto que nada podía hacer por mi padre, empecé a aburrirme. Cansado de estar sentado en la misma posición, me levanté y, sólo por hacer algo, bebí agua del grifo. No me dijeron nada. Más tarde me fui a la parte trasera, entre las tablas de madera, para hacer pis. Regresé y me lavé las manos en la pila de azulejos y de grifo oxidado. Saqué el bocadillo de mi cartera y me lo comí. Volví a beber agua del grifo y tampoco me dijeron nada. Regresé a mi sitio, y allí permanecí mortalmente aburrido durante largo rato.

Era más de mediodía cuando salimos a la calle. Otra vez se me cegaron los ojos, me molestaba la luz tan brillante. Mi padre echó la llave a los dos cerrojos de hierro gris. Tuve la impresión de que se demoraba ex profeso en hacerlo. Le entregó las llaves a mi madrastra, diciéndole que él ya no las necesitaría. Mi madrastra abrió su bolso. Asustado, pensé que otra vez sacaría el pañuelo, pero se limitó a guardar las llaves. Nos dispusimos a caminar con muchas prisas. Pensé que regresaríamos a casa pero primero fuimos de compras. Mi madrastra tenía una larga lista de todo lo que mi padre podía necesitar en el campo de trabajo. La víspera había comprado ya una parte, pero aún faltaban algunas cosas. Yo me sentía un poco incómodo caminando a su lado: los tres llevábamos nuestras estrellas amarillas. Cuando iba solo, no me importaba llevarla e incluso me divertía, pero cuando ellos me acompañaban, me molestaba. No podría explicar por qué. En todas las tiendas que recorrimos había mucha gente, excepto donde compramos la mochila, allí éramos nosotros los únicos clientes. El aire estaba cargado del fuerte olor de las tinturas utilizadas en la preparación de las telas. El tendero—un anciano de tez amarillenta y dientes postizos níveos que llevaba una codera en un brazo—y su mujer se mostraron muy amables con nosotros. Amontonaron gran cantidad de mercancías sobre el mostrador. Advertí que el tendero llamaba a su esposa—también anciana—«hija» y que la mandaba a ella en busca de los artículos. Yo ya conocía aquella tienda porque estaba cerca de nuestra casa pero hasta aquel día no había entrado en ella. Era una tienda de artículos de deporte, en la que también vendían otras cosas. Desde hacía un tiempo vendían incluso estrellas amarillas de fabricación propia debido a la escasez de tela amarilla. (Mi madrastra había conseguido las nuestras a su debido tiempo.) Las estrellas de la tienda, de tela amarilla, estaban fijadas a una cartulina recortada, con lo que resultaban mucho más bonitas que las caseras, que a menudo tenían las puntas desiguales. Observé que ellos también llevaban las mismas estrellas que vendían, como si desearan animar a los posibles compradores.

El tendero nos preguntó, disculpándose por el atrevimiento, si los artículos que estábamos comprando eran para un campo de trabajo. Mi madrastra le respondió que sí. El viejo asintió con la cabeza y nos miró con una expresión triste. Levantó sus viejas y manchadas manos y las dejó caer, con un gesto de pena, sobre el mostrador. Entonces mi madrastra le preguntó si tenían mochilas, puesto que necesitábamos una. El anciano tardó en responder, pero por fin dijo: «Para ustedes, seguramente habrá alguna. Trae del almacén una mochila, hija, para este señor.»

La mujer volvió con una mochila que parecía buena y apropiada. El tendero envió una vez más a su mujer por algunas cosas que—en su opinión—mi padre «podría necesitar allá donde iba a ir». Hablaba con nosotros con mucho tacto y simpatía y trataba de evitar usar la expresión «trabajos obligatorios». Nos enseñó objetos muy útiles, como un recipiente hermético para la comida, un estuche que contenía una navaja y otros utensilios incorporados, un bolso muy práctico para colgar del hombro, cosas que—según decía—compraba la gente que se encontraba en «circunstancias parecidas».

Mi madrastra decidió adquirir la navaja para mi padre. También a mí me gustaba. Una vez escogido todo lo necesario, el tendero mandó a su esposa a la caja. Moviendo su cuerpo frágil, envuelto en un vestido negro, con bastante dificultad, la mujer se situó ante la caja que estaba sobre el mostrador, delante de un sillón acolchado. Después, el tendero nos acompañó hasta la puerta. Antes de despedirse dijo que esperaba tener la suerte de poder servirnos en otra ocasión y, dirigiéndose a mi padre, añadió: «De la manera que usted, señor, y yo deseamos.»

Finalmente, nos dirigimos a nuestra casa, situada en un edificio grande de varias plantas, cerca de una plaza donde hay una parada de tranvías. Una vez en casa, mi madrastra se dio cuenta de que no habíamos recogido nuestra ración de pan. Tuve que regresar a la panadería. Esperé fuera hasta que llegó mi turno y luego entré en la tienda. La panadera, una mujer rubia y tetuda, cortaba el pedazo de pan que correspondía a cada ración y luego su marido lo pesaba. No me devolvió el saludo. Era sabido en el barrio que no le caían bien los judíos; por eso también nuestra ración de pan pesaba siempre algo menos de lo que nos correspondía. Según se decía, de esta forma él se quedaba con una parte del pan racionado. De alguna manera, quizá por su mirada airada y sus movimientos decididos, comprendí las razones de su animadversión hacia los judíos: si hubiera sentido simpatía por ellos, habría tenido la desagradable sensación de estar engañándolos. Por lo tanto, actuaba por convicción, guiado por la justicia y la verdad que emanan de unos ideales, lo cual era completamente diferente.

Tenía prisa por llegar a casa porque estaba hambriento, así que sólo intercambié unas pocas palabras con Annamária, que bajaba por las escaleras cuando yo me disponía a subir. Ella vive en el mismo piso que nosotros, en la casa de los Steiner, con quienes ahora nos reunimos todas las noches en casa de los Fleischmann. Antes, no hacíamos el menor caso de los vecinos, pero desde que sabemos que somos de la misma raza, intercambiamos ideas sobre nuestro futuro. Habitualmente, nosotros dos hablamos de otras cosas; así me enteré de que la señora y el señor Steiner son sus tíos; sus padres están ahora arreglando los papeles del divorcio, y como todavía no han decidido qué van a hacer con ella, la han mandado a vivir con sus tíos. Antes, por la misma razón, ha estado en un internado, como yo. Tiene unos catorce años. Su cuello es muy largo. Debajo de su estrella amarilla ya le han empezado a crecer los senos. Aquel día ella también iba a la panadería. Me preguntó si quería jugar a las cartas por la tarde con ella y las dos hermanas que viven en el piso de arriba, con las que Annamária ha entablado amistad. Yo apenas las conozco, pues sólo las he visto algunas veces en la escalera y en el refugio antiaéreo del sótano. La más pequeña debe de tener unos once o doce años. La mayor, según Annamária, tiene la misma edad que ella. A veces, desde una habitación de nuestra casa cuyas ventanas dan al interior, la veo pasar por el pasillo. También me he cruzado con ella un par de veces en el portal. Deseaba conocerla mejor y ésa era una buena oportunidad. Pero de repente me acordé de mi padre y le dije a Annamária que no podía ir porque lo habían destinado a trabajos obligatorios. Me respondió que había oído a su tío comentar algo sobre ello.

Después de permanecer un rato en silencio ella volvió a hablar: «¿Qué tal mañana?» «Mejor pasado—contesté yo, y luego añadí—: quizá.»

Cuando llegué a casa, mi padre y mi madrastra estaban sentados a la mesa. Ella me sirvió la comida y me preguntó si tenía hambre. Sin detenerme a pensar le contesté que tenía muchísima hambre, y así era en verdad. Me llenó el plato, y ella apenas se sirvió. Yo no me di cuenta, pero mi padre sí y le preguntó por qué hacía eso. Ella repuso que en aquel momento su estómago era incapaz de ingerir ningún alimento. Entonces me di cuenta de mi comportamiento erróneo. Mi padre manifestó que no estaba de acuerdo con ella. No debía abandonarse, justo en ese momento cuando más iba a necesitar su fuerza y su firmeza. Mi madrastra no respondió; cuando levanté la vista comprobé que estaba llorando. Me sentí otra vez tan incómodo que clavé la mirada en mi plato. No obstante, con el rabillo del ojo vi el gesto de mi padre, cogiéndola de la mano. Permanecieron un minuto en silencio. Levanté la vista y vi que continuaban cogidos de la mano, mirándose fijamente como hombre y mujer. Eso nunca me ha gustado. Ya sé que es algo muy natural, al fin y al cabo, pero a mí no me gusta y nunca he sabido por qué.

Cuando reanudaron la charla me sentí liberado. Volvieron a mencionar al señor Sütő, la caja y el almacén. Mi padre parecía tranquilo al haber puesto todo «en buenas manos». Mi madrastra se mostró de acuerdo con él, aunque volvió a referirse brevemente a una «garantía», para evitar que todo quedara en unas palabras de confianza que quizás eran insuficientes. Mi padre se encogió de hombros, y le respondió que en aquellos tiempos no sólo en los negocios ya no había garantías sino tampoco en otros aspectos de la vida. Mi madrastra soltó un profundo suspiro, con el que dio a entender que se había convencido; se disculpó por haber mencionado el asunto y le pidió a mi padre que no hablara de esa forma. Él dijo entonces que no sabía cómo se las arreglaría mi madrastra para resolver ella sola los problemas que

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Lo que piensa la gente sobre Sin destino

4.1
15 valoraciones / 24 Reseñas
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Reseñas de lectores

  • (5/5)
    My mechanics are likely skewed, it happens. The passing of Hitchens has pressed me terribly. This remarkable novel represented a current of oxygen amidst the stifle. Fateless maintains an ironic stance towards the Shoah. It should be embraced. By "embrace", I mean to cherish. By "It" I mean both the irony and the novel.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent for its ability to provide insights into how prisoners were so easily caught up into the deportations and camp experience, and in the after-camp experience in which those who weren't in camps wanted everyone to just forget it and move one; an impossibility.
  • (4/5)
    I don't ever really know what to say about books set during the Holocaust. This one is about a rather naive and initially thoughtless, unobservant boy who gets packed off first to Auschwitz, then Buchenwald, then a smaller labor camp, then back to Buchenwald. He becomes, for lack of a better word, institutionalized during this time, isolated from his captors (of course) but also from his fellow prisoners who either don't see him as sufficiently Jewish (neither does he see himself so) or who dislike Hungarians (a view the boy claims to agree with). He is, throughout the book, unemotional, with his thoughts expressed with an increasing stiltedness verging on a hesitant formality. The best (that is, most horrific and well-crafted) thing about the book is the slow creep of realization on the boy's part--he thought he was going to a better life; but of course the reader knows better and waits for the details of extermination camps to slowly coalesce before the boy's eyes. The worst thing about the book is that I felt little connection to the character, which surprises me, but is likely due to the function of the prose and the distance the boy has even from himself, as well as the pure chance of his survival--there is nothing heroic or even particularly sympathetic about him (although there is much sympathetic about his condition naturally), there are in fact deficiencies (he expresses no real fear or concern for his parents or step-mother). This is hyper-realistic I suppose, much like the chimneys of Auschwitz were solid, real, genuine--a point that kept coming back to me as I compared this boy to Holden Caulfield (since I read The Catcher in the Rye recently), who would have found all the non-phoniness he could handle in the Germans' camps. I recommend it, and actually give it 4.5 stars, but there's little to nothing in it to counter the horror of the subject matter, even as that horror is muted by the boy's detachment.
  • (5/5)
    A story of a young boy surviving and searching for normalcy in German concentration camps. This Nobel Prize winner is perhaps the most gut-wrenching yet thoughtful accounts I've ever read.
  • (5/5)
    Imre Kertesz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002 for "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history". Fatelessness, Kertesz' first novel, was published in 1975 and first published in English in 1992. I read a more recent translation by Tim Wilkinson which was published in 2002, the year Kertesz won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born in 1929 and was himself imprisioned in Buchenwald as a young man.Fatelessness is a semi-autobiographical novel about a 14-year-old boy, Georg Koves, in Budapest in the last year of WWII. Georg is a bright boy whose parents are divorced. He lives with his step-mother and father in a secular Jewish home. He is a typical teenager and doesn't particularly think of himself as Jewish, in fact, he accepts some anti-semitic viewpoints that he encounters in the broader Hungarian society of the time. After his father is sent to a "work camp" he is required to leave school and work at a local gas plant. He rather enjoys his time there and forms friendships with the other boys who are forced to work there but one day on his way to work he encounters a road-block where all Jews are rounded up. He is sent first to Auschwitz then Buchenwald and finally Zeitz. His friends are scattered to other camps and he finds himself completely alone with people he mostly can't communicate with, because he doesn't speak Yddish or their native tongues, and with whom he really doesn't identify. It takes some time for the reality of his situation to sink in but ultimately he endures, and witnesses, brutality and depravation and, in fact, comes very close to dying. He does survive and makes it back to Budapest where he tries to explain his experiences in words which I found very thought-provoking.The book is written in a remarkably matter-of-fact, unemotional style that makes it very powerful. More powerful, in my opinion, than had it been written in a more usual style. Without hesitation I give it 5-stars.
  • (5/5)
    Georg Koves is a 14-year-old Hungarian boy whose father is sent to work at a "labor camp". Georg himself is told he must work instead of attend school. Taken off of a bus en route to work, Georg and other Jews are transported to Auschwitz. He is later moved to two other concentration camps - first Buchenwald, then Zeitz. Reporting on his daily life in a way that doesn't reveal emotion, he tells of what he sees and learns as he is passed along from one concentration camp to another.The writing is detailed and beautiful. However, it is hard to imagine that this is the voice of a 14-year-old boy. Perhaps it's the translation, although this is a newer translation of the book called Sorstalansag in Hungarian. Because the story lacks emotional footing, much attention is paid to the minutae of Georg's daily life. It's probably a "safe" way of reading about the Holocaust, but it is strange indeed. One thing that it does well is capture the wonder of one person who tries to make sense of what he sees around him. The story-telling narrative runs along with no pause - almost like the day-after-day sense of Georg's being caught up in a life over which he has no control. This is for sure a mesmerizing read.
  • (4/5)
    Fateless is no ordinary book on the Holocaust. It traces the experiences of a 15-year-old boy in Auschwitz and the various ways through which he managed to retain some semblance of serenity (even borderline apathy) in the face of the horrors he witnessed. Kertesz, himself an Auschwitz survivor, chose to depict the atrocities the boy suffers in the book with a purposedful lack of emotion. He also does not engage in active description of what Auschwitz was physically like, since words cannot really describe it. Instead, the horror of it all rests in the extreme melancholy and detachment of the main character, which obviously account for the way he found to cope with his surroundings.
  • (4/5)
    This has been a hard book to digest and even harder to review. It is about the Holocaust, which is a delicate topic to discuss in itself, and problematic because it provides an intellectually alternative view of how to perceive the horrors and the ultimate meaning of fate and freedom. I have read many books about the Holocaust, and I have come to expect not only a certain plot line (denial, ghetto, camps, horrors, survival or not, with occasional attempts at escape or resistance), but also a certain communal mindset about the entire event: inhumane to the point of vowing "Never again" (rather futile words given the continued perpetuation of genocides). We have a collective understanding of what the Holocaust was and even a general sense of how survivor's felt: horror, grief, suppression of emotional response in some cases, and then moving on, many not wanting to speak of their experiences. When a book comes along that challenges this set of collective beliefs, it is very hard not to simply deny or negate what the author says. I found this to be the case for me when I read [Scheisshaus luck] and [I'm No Hero], both memoirs of young men who found the war and their internment to be no reason to stop chasing women, taking advantage of opportunities for self-benefit, or struggling with the adolescent angst of moving from child to man. At first I was horrified: poking fun, bawdy, irreverent - the Holocaust? In a different way, [Fatelessness] provoked a similar response in me. Georg Koves is a fictional character that observes and accepts without question or malice what happens to him. Constantly throughout the book, Georg uses phrases like "naturally", "purely in my eyes, of course", "it goes without saying", "in my case at least", "for me at any rate", and others that convey the sense that what he experiences in the Holocaust and the camps is natural, although the author acknowledges that this may not be the same view others take. At the very beginning, I still considered myself to be what I might call a sort of guest in captivity—very pardonably and , when it comes down to it, in full accordance with the propensity to delusion that we all share and which is thus, I suppose, ultimately part of human nature.In addition, Georg, sees the beauty of nature and the joy possible in the camps. Even when he is so ill and emaciated that he doesn't expect to live, he thinksThus, when I, along with all the others on whom it was clear not too much further hope can have been pinned of being set to work again here, in Zeitz (a subcamp), was returned to sender as it were—back to Buchenwald—I naturally shared the others' joy with every faculty that was left me, since I was promptly reminded of the good times there, most especially the morning soups.Joy at returning to Buchenwald, where good times were had? This is only one of several instances where some readers might be incredulous and even angry at the perceived belittlement of the true horrors of the place. One could assume that the character Georg is delusional or that he was emotionally stunted from the beginning. His lack of emotional response as his family prepares first to send his father off to forced labor, and then himself to Auschwitz, seems inappropriate even to a fourteen year old child. And indeed there are passages at the end of the book when he truly does not seem to understand human emotion. Or is it that he understands it too well?In the end, I found that people on all sides were looking at me, heads shaking, and with a most singular emotion on their faces, which was a little embarrassing because, as best I could tell, they were feeling sorry for me. I felt a strong urge to tell them there was no need for that after all, at least not right at that moment, but I ended up saying nothing, something held me back, somehow I couldn't find it in my heart to do so, because I noticed that the emotion gratified them, gave them some sort of pleasure, the way I saw it. Indeed—and I could have been mistaken of course, though I don't think so—but later on (for there were one or two other occasions on which Ii was similarly questioned and interrogated) I gained the impression that they expressly sought out, almost hunted for, an opportunity, a means or pretext for this emotion for some reason, out of some need, as a testimony to something as it were, to their method of dealing with things perhaps, or possibly, who knows, to their still being capable of it at all..."The emotion (of pity) gratified them." Although Georg is referring to fellow prisoners, can the idea of seeking an opportunity to feel pity for the innocent victims of the Holocaust refer to us as well? Personally, I believe there are many reasons why people read Holocaust memoirs, visit memorials, and educate themselves about the history of the Holocaust. But could there also exist this desire to feel pity, to seek opportunities to be horrified and sorry for others? It's a loaded question. When people speak to or read the words of survivors, what do they want to hear?For even there, next to the chimneys, in the intervals between the torments, there was something that resembled happiness. Everyone asks only about the hardships and the "atrocities", whereas for me perhaps it is that experience which will remain most memorable. Yes, the next time I am asked, I ought to speak about that, the happiness of the concentration camps.If indeed I am asked. And provided I myself don't forget.
  • (4/5)
    I picked this book before a trip to Eastern Europe, visiting Budapest, Krakow and Prague. We wanted to focus part of our trip on the Holocaust and planned visits to Auschwitz, the Jewish quarter in Prague and other important historic sights. This book added a depth to our visit that gave us some additional insight about the horror of that time. The story is about a 14 year old boy from Budapest, Georg Koves, who is seized on his way to work to be sent to Auschwitz. This story is told in Georg's voice and its tone is very matter-of-fact. Although he sees that people are being separated to be killed, he doesn't display the expected horror or panic. And in the same even tone, he talks about the death of people around him, his gradual starvation and the daily work grind. Although the tone is calm and even, the facts are horrible and it makes this period of history seem even more cruel. An excellent book of a somber period in our history.
  • (2/5)
    I probably would have liked this better if it were written in a different style. I understand the use of the dispassionate narrative to provide an arresting contrast to the horrors being depicted at the concentration camps, but it kind of turned me off--not to mention the pages-long paragraphs and forty page chapters (I like my chapters to be around 10-15 pages; it's helpful to me to have frequent stopping places seeing as that most of my reading is done during short breaks between classes and right before I go to bed). This book does get into something special during the last two chapters, though, when the narrator begins to talk about the "beauty" and "happiness" of the camps. Reading about that unusual aspect was really striking. I suggest that if you're struggling through this book to just skip to the last 90 pages-they're the gems of the novel.
  • (4/5)
    Nominally this is a story about a young boy who is sent to the Nazi concentration camps from his home in Budapest in the last year of World War II. Narrated in the first person by young Gyorgy Koves, the novel is the story of an outsider -- one who does not belong to any group or anyone even as he is brutally incarcerated and his life is severely restricted almost to the point of death. Gyorgy is an outsider in several senses. The week before he leaves home his Father is sent away to a "labor camp". When Gyorgy arrives at the concentration camp to which he has been transported he has to claim to be sixteen when he was not, surviving by being one of a small number of youths among many older prisoners. He was not from a particularly religious family, and knew neither Yiddish nor Hebrew. So, while he wore the obligatory yellow star, fellow Jewish prisoners looked down on him because he only spoke Hungarian, again he was an outsider and felt as though he did not fit in, but took it all in stride with faith that things would work out. His narrative underscores the feeling of being an outsider by a focus on the his individual interaction with the camp with little mention of specific interpersonal connections. The one exception, his friend Bandi Citrom, is the only boy whose name we learn. The author uses his young narrator's lack of knowledge about his surroundings to maintain a distance from his new world. It is a distance that also constrains Gyorgy's connection with other individuals he meets in the camp who, when referred to at all, are given generic nicknames like "traveller", "fancy-man", and "the Gypsy". It is only Bandi that we learn anything about and it is about him that Gyorgy says: "all these things, and much else besides, all of it knowledge essential to prison life, I was taught by Bandi Citrom, learning by watching and myself striving to emulate." The horror of the story is in the way Gyorgy describes his slow descent into a shadow of his former self as his body becomes a living ghost. It is his striving, which ebbs lower and lower, that keeps him going. This is a difficult book to read in its unrelenting presentation of an extreme experience of degradation of an individual. Like others who have shared similar experiences Kertesz connects with the reader on a very human level sharing the story of an ordinary young man whose experience was extraordinary.
  • (3/5)
    This is a fiction book about a Jewish boy held in Auschwitz concentration camp and Buchenwald and Zeitz work campus during the Holocaust by a man who had a similar experience. He tells the tale matter-of-factually, as he experiences it. A lot of details just build to provide a picture of how commonplace and every-day horror can become as humans try to survive moment to moment. As he tries to explain to his family on returning home how hope, and longing for stability, and ethics have led everyone involved who is still alive to follow this path through to fruition, everyone he tries to explain it to becomes horrified. He speculates on the happiness in the concentration campus and on how anyone who came to these realizations all at once, instead of minute by minute as they were forced to live and find food and work and move, might collapse.Honestly, it kept occurring to me while I was traveling in unknown places after finishing the book that I was sometimes following signs in underground places that were little populated for long distances, and I was just doing what the signs suggested I do next. Just hoping that it would get me where I needed to be without much thought, and I would think of the beginning of the books as people are transported to the camps almost without protest. Then I would feel ridiculous for my mundane comparison in face of such atrocities, then I would think about how the mundane nature of a lot of it was kind of his point, but it didn't make me feel less guilty.
  • (4/5)
    Es una historia muy diferente a lo que he escuchado sobre los campos de concentración. De hecho aprendí demasiado sobre las divisiones, los distintos campos que existían y la sorprendente poca falta de higiene que llegaron a tener dentro de aquellas áreas.

    Las impresiones del joven protagonista me dejaron sin palabras. Lo comprendí. Era un joven y razonó con maestría todo lo que le sucedía.
    Retó a sus conocidos con estos pensamientos porque él tenía un punto de vista completamente diferente al de la demás gente que no estuvo dentro de algún campo.

    Mantenerse ocupado era la forma de sobrevivir. Y lo que lo mantuvo sereno fue saber que no podía cambiar las cosas pero podía controlar el dolor, el aburrimiento, la pereza, la higiene y la esperanza.

    Me llama la atención el recuerdo que tiene sobre sus días en el campo de concentración. Hay cierta evocación a días felices... De cosas duras que vivió allí y a sus amigos que han sido repartidos en otras direcciones o han quedado en el camino.

    Seguir caminando es lo que nos platica el protagonista y cargar con los recuerdos porque son parte de nuestra historia. Aunque no todos sean buenos.


    Lo recomiendo. :)
  • (5/5)
    Original, yo opino que es el diario de Ana Frank para adultos
  • (3/5)
    Min of meer autobiografisch verhaal van een 15-jarige joodse jongen in Boedpast, die in 1944 op een transport wordt gezet naar Auschwitz, maar uiteindelijk toch de holocaust overleefd. Het bijzondere aan dit verhaal is de manier waarop de kleine Gyurgi hetgeen hem overkomt beschrijft en ondergaat: met grote na?eviteit en afstandelijkheid, opgaand in de gebeurtenissen, in die mate zelfs dat hij voortdurend zijn lof voor de Duitsers en hun goede organisatie onderstreept en de wreedheden als logische gebeurtenissen duidt; Buchenwald heeft bij hem zelfs de allures van een klein paradijs; Kertesz is later hard voor aangepakt voor die ogenschijnlijk positieve manier van voorstellen. Maar de verstandige lezer zou de "perverse" onderlaag toch moeten onderkennen. Toch grijpt dit boek niet echt aan; daarvoor is het te onderkoeld geschreven.
  • (3/5)
    Min of meer autobiografisch verhaal van een 15-jarige joodse jongen in Boedpast, die in 1944 op een transport wordt gezet naar Auschwitz, maar uiteindelijk toch de holocaust overleefd. Het bijzondere aan dit verhaal is de manier waarop de kleine Gyurgi hetgeen hem overkomt beschrijft en ondergaat: met grote naïeviteit en afstandelijkheid, opgaand in de gebeurtenissen, in die mate zelfs dat hij voortdurend zijn lof voor de Duitsers en hun goede organisatie onderstreept en de wreedheden als logische gebeurtenissen duidt; Buchenwald heeft bij hem zelfs de allures van een klein paradijs; Kertesz is later hard voor aangepakt voor die ogenschijnlijk positieve manier van voorstellen. Maar de verstandige lezer zou de "perverse" onderlaag toch moeten onderkennen. Toch grijpt dit boek niet echt aan; daarvoor is het te onderkoeld geschreven.
  • (4/5)
    ”I also glimpsed, directly in front and to the left, some building, a godforsaken railway halt or possibly the signal box for some larger terminal. It was miniscule, gray, and, as yet, completely deserted, its small windows closed and with one of those ridiculously steep-pitched roofs that I had already see in this region yesterday…..They asked if I could see a place-name on it. In the strengthening light, on the narrower gable end of the building, facing the direction in which we were traveling, on the surface below the roof, I could in fact make out two words: ‘Auschwitz-Birkenau’ was what I read, written in spiky, curlicued Gothic lettering, joined by one of those wavy double hyphens of theirs.” (Page 76)Gyuri, a fourteen year old Hungarian Jew, was plucked from a bus transporting him to his assigned work camp and forced into a cattle car with others who were also on the bus. They had no idea where they were going. Even when they got to the dreaded destination, they were unaware of the meaning of the later feared concentration camp.This book is semi-autobiographical and its author later went on to win the Nobel prize in Literature. Gyuri narrates the story almost as if he is an unconcerned bystander, making dry observations of the everyday activities in the camp. He is scorned by most of the others as an outsider because he is Hungarian and can’t speak Yiddish and he soon learns how valuable fluency in another language would have been to him. Nothing he sees is presented as wicked or shocking. It’s just the way it is and he just seems to accept very stoically, that this is the life he is living. He can’t do anything about it so he quickly develops an attitude of blind acceptance.When he finally returns home after the liberation of the camps he has a hard time explaining to others that he actually was happy at times while being held in the concentration camp. Very few people can understand this.The book is beautifully written and very moving. It presented a side to being held captive that I never would’ve considered possible. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    This extraordinary book, written by a man who experienced Buchenwald Concentration Camp first hand at 14 years of age, illuminates why so many Jews accepted their fate so passively. He describes getting caught up in a round-up of men and boys and as you see it through his eyes you can appreciate the awfulness but understand why he might never imagine just where it was leading. As in Les Bienveillantes, I again saw inside the bureaucratic machine that sweeps the oppressor along as relentlessly as the oppressed. It seems to me that, rather than simple evil, there is an innate indifference in people to the suffering of others when there is a profit to be made or a risk to be avoided. The oppressed are zealous about alleviating their own suffering at the cost of their fellow oppressed.The book is remarkable for its detached almost journalistic tone which allocates blame but without bitterness. For instance, having made his way through the Auschwitz induction routine, he marvels at the creative way the people have been deceived into unquestioningly following along and imagines the meeting where German officers constructed the deception:After all, people would have had to meet to discuss this, put their heads together so to say … One of them comes up with the gas, another immediately follows with the bathhouse, a third with the soap, then a fourth adds the flower beds, and so on. Some of the ideas may have provoked more prolonged discussion and amendment, whereas others would have been immediately hailed with delight.The whole business is so detached and impersonal, not unlike the present day taking of a decision to say, relocate a factory to Asia and cast a lot of people out of their jobs. The executives are so pleased at their own cleverness and (almost) oblivious to the human cost. I’ve observed management in my workplace take important decisions about peoples lives, carelessly and indeed ignorant of their prejudices. The Holocaust may have been facilitated by the same universal mentality.A portion of the book, describing the period in the infirmary which was probably responsible for his survival, is very strange. It remined me of the Twilight Zone and I had the eerie feeling of seeing his world in black and white only. Again you see that the oppressed is ready to turn oppressor at the drop of a hat to save his skin. I wonder did the author wait so many years to write his story because the fundamental message is so disturbing. This is an uncomfortable book because you read it with a growing fear that you are no stronger than them and could easily have participated in the persecution.
  • (5/5)
    It is unforgivable that Kertész remains relatively unknown despite winning a Nobel Prize.I read this book alongside Primo Levi's 'Auschwitz Report' and Elias Canetti's essay 'Power and Survival'.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of those books it just never seemed the right time to read. I’m sure we all have them – books of undeniable importance that we know we’ll want to read someday. Need even. Just not…today. And besides, what if it don’t like it? Worse, what if it doesn’t affect me? So despite being a slender volume and coming with strong recommendations from people I trust, despite reading other books dealing with the holocaust in the meantime, Fateless stared at me from my shelves for close to seven years before I finally picked it up.This slim novel, drawing from the author’s own experiences, is telling the well known story of the concentration camps in the simplest way possible. The boy Györgi, already used to the limitations to his everyday life that comes with being a jew in Budapest in 1944, is asked to get off the bus on his way to work one day. After being rounded up in a house, in a mellow and almost friendly fashion, he and his friends are put on a train “to go to work in Germany”. Only when arriving at his destination he comes to realise that the stories of the death camps he’s always dismissed were true. The book then deals with Györgi’s prison life in Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz, right up til the liberation and his return home.Kertész tells us this heart-wrenching story in style that’s laconic and completely understated, free of sentiment. Györgi treats the daily horrors of the camps as if they were inevitable, even natural, which gives the writing a form of held back force that is impossible to guard oneself against. The image the reader gets is that of complete disillusion and detachment as survival strategy. And when our narrator after returning home one single time describes what he’s feeling -“hate”- that simple word stands out as something extremely powerful.This book is full of images and little descriptions that seem profound statements of life under such extreme circumstances. Such as the illogical will to prove yourself as a good worker to your tormentors. Or the utter boredom of life in the camps. Or the disappointment when you realise you still want to cling on to life despite being seriously ill. Or being worried at the ruckus of liberation if this means they’ll forget to serve evening soup. Or the strange sting of homesickness that hits you when thinking back on the camps.This is a quick and easy read. And very difficult. And utterly thought-provoking. I can’t recommend it enough.
  • (5/5)
    Gabi Toth gave me this for my 60th birthday. On first sight a strange choice of novel as a gift to a novice sexagenarian.From my email to John Paine:"The one recent novel which will stick in my memory is the work of a Hungarian writer called Imre Kertesz. He won the Nobel prize for literature. The book is called ‘Fateless’ and tells the story of Gyuri and his journey to and through Auschwitz. What distinguishes the narrative is the way the narrator makes sense - or tries to - of what he sees and goes through. I hesitate to recommend it because of the subject matter but what is foregrounded is the narrator’s stance rather than the awful familiar events. Whatever. The book has lingered in my mind after I closed it for the last time this morning and I cannot say that about most of the stuff I read. Because I get books from the library I am liberated from the obligation to read to the end books which don’t grab me. Fateless was given to me by Liz’s eldest son’s girlfriend who is Hungarian and comes from Budapest. Quite the thing really to be given a book from her culture and to feel that in some way the young lady has a programme to educate me! "
  • (5/5)
    This story opens as we are immediately plunked into a young, 15 year old boys life. We come to realize very quickly that we are reading about World War II and that young Gyuri is Jewish, and getting ready to say goodbye to his father who is being shipped out to a work camp. Set in Hungry, Fatelessness follows along as Gyuri is separated from his family and shipped off to Auschwitz. Trying to make sense of senseless acts, this boy, who doesn’t particularly think of himself as Jewish, slowly loses the last things he owns, his identity and his sense of self.This story is made all the more powerful by the author, Imre Kertesz, who writes in a matter-of-fact, unsentimental way as he portrays this chilling, haunting story. As we follow Gyuri from Auschwitz to Buchenwald, he slowly becomes aware that he is one of the few that haven’t been immediately killed. He is crammed into a shed with two hundred and fifty other men, kept alive on starvation rations and forced to labour in an adjacent factory. At first he thinks he will get along by being a model prisoner, but polite obedience and a willingness to work until his fingers bleed eventually give way to the slow realization that he is powerless to change things.A heart-rendering story, Fatelessness, is Imre Kertesz story as well, as he was imprisoned in Buchenwald as a young man, and this, his first novel, does much to shed light upon this terrible moment in history.
  • (3/5)
    If any novel would have the ability to impress with its insights into the human condition, you would think it would be one about a teenage boy named Gyorgy trying to survive as he is torn away from his family one day, and then randomly shuffled from one concentration camp to the next. Add to this a narrator whose first-person, documental prose discusses everything from his father being transferred to a labor camp to, at the end of the novel, his blasé reaction to his father’s death in the camps. Thinking back on it, this was one of the central problems for me: his reactions, even to the most horrific experiences (like finding out that there were crematoria in the camps), was unconvincingly cool and aloof. In one of the last sentences of “Fateless,” Gyorgy says “Everybody will ask me about the deprivations, the ‘terror of the camps,’ but for me, the happiness there will always be the most memorable experience, perhaps. Yes, that’s what I’ll tell them the next time they ask me: about the happiness in those camps.” I wonder what survivors today would say about that sentence; I do not deny that some might find it interesting, but I would be curious about the average reaction that a Holocaust survivor had to it. What I find most disconcerting about this is not that he could have found happiness in the camps. We are forced to find our own ways to survive psychologically, after all. But nothing in the book leading up to that sentence would have led the reader to believe that it was true. As a result, the whole thing ended up feeling false, more like a series of diary entries than a coherent, lucid account of concentration camp life. I use the term “diary entries” here because, while so many people claim that this is biographical or semi-biographical novel, Kertesz has purportedly denied this is true.But I should note some important qualifications. I didn’t read the novel in Hungarian, I may have been in a particularly non-receptive mood while reading it, et cetera. Another reviewer wrote, “In the end I remained as detached and as unengaged as Gyorgy himself.” I agree. And because of that, I’m afraid it will not stick with me in the same way, say, that Primo Levi’s “The Periodic Table” has. I was glad this was not, as so much popular Holocaust fiction is, a simplistic story of “good triumphing over evil.” Kertesz never turns the events in the camps into some gratuitous pornography of atrocity after atrocity, leaving us to sanctimoniously shake our heads in disapproval. How true is it? In some ways, I hope I will never find out. But the sincerity of his literary effort and vision are not something I cannot call into question.
  • (4/5)
    Fatelessness tells the story of a young Jewish boy, living trough the Holocaust. The style of this book is strange, very distant and almost unemotional. But I think that style made this book all the more powerful. We see atrocities and hardship through the boy's eyes, and because he feels so detached, it hit me harder. Fatelessness is not an easy book to read, but it shouldn't be.