Budapest, March 31 (MTI) – Hungary’s Nobel laureate author Imre Kertész died at age 86 after a long and serious illness, the publisher Magvető said on Thursday.

Kertész died in his Budapest home at 4am on March 31, it said.

Kertész was a novelist, essayist and translator, the first Hungarian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming a Nobel laureate in 2002. In his work, Kertész focused on the experience of the individual trapped in the barbarianism manifest in the Holocaust, returning to the subject in several quasi-autobiographical novels.

Kertész’s first book, “Sorstalanság” (“Fatelessness”, published 1975) had been written a decade earlier. When finally published, it received little critical attention but established Kertész as a unique and provocative voice in the dissident subculture within contemporary Hungarian literature. The book is a detached and almost emotionless account of a fifteen-year-old Jewish boy, who narrates his experiences in the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

Kertész was awarded the prestigious Kossuth Prize in 1997 and the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary in 2014. The author said the bestowing and his acceptance of the latter was about “the desire and inevitability of reaching a consensus”.

His literary awards included the Brandenburg Literature Prize (1995), The Book Prize for European Understanding (1997), the WELT-Literaturpreis in 2000, Ehrenpreis der Robert-Bosch-Stiftung (2001), the Hans-Sahl-Preis (2002) and the Nobel Prize that same year. “Fatelessness” was made into a film in 2005 (under the title “Fateless”).

Hungary’s political parties expressed their condolences to Kertész’s family.

The ruling Fidesz party paid tribute to the author in a statement saying that his works helped many understand the nature of dictatorships of the 20th century. Like Hungary’s-20th century history, Kertész’s life and works were also shaped by the Nazi and communist regimes, the party said.

The opposition Socialist Party said Kertész’s works help answer the basic questions of humanism and universal morality. Party leader József Tóbiás said “Fatelessness” offered a new perspective of the horrors of the Holocaust, making the tragedy easier to understand for millions of people.

The green opposition LMP said Kertész raised fresh moral questions for an entire generation. Co-leader András Schiffer said in a statement that the author made historic contributions to Hungarian literature. His passing will leave an unfillable space, Schiffer said.

The opposition Egyűtt party said Kertész’s death is a major loss to Hungarian culture. His works made it easier for many to come to terms with the Holocaust and start anew, contributing to peaceful relations among Europeans, they said.

Photo: MTI


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