Dossier K: Book summary and reviews of Dossier K by Imre Kertesz

Dossier K

A Memoir

by Imre Kertesz

Dossier K by Imre Kertesz
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  • Published in USA  May 2013
    224 pages
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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Book Summary

The first and only memoir from the Nobel Prize-winning author, in the form of an illuminating, often funny, and often combative interview—conducted by the author of himself.

Dossier K is Imre Kertész's response to the hasty biographies and profiles that followed his 2002 Nobel Prize, an attempt to set the record straight. But, as befits Kertész, it's a beautifully roundabout way of going straight: Kertész faces and interrogates himself about the issues and events that have long preoccupied him, while also dealing with the questions that really annoy him (such as, "Is your work autobiographical?").

The result is an extraordinary self-portrait, in which Kertész recounts memories of his childhood in Budapest; the years that lead up to the Second World War and his first encounters with anti-Semitism; the incredible forged record of his death in Buchenwald that may in fact have saved his life; his release from the camps and his return to his family; Hungary's Rákosi and Kádár regimes and the terror, hypocrisy, and absurdity they entailed; his thoughts about what other writers have written about the Holocaust; his two marriages; and his long development as a writer.

This is a surprising and provocative autobiography that delves into questions about the legacy of the Holocaust, fiction and reality, and what Kertész calls "the wonderful burden of being responsible for yourself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [Kertész] finds that writing gives him his greatest joy and believes it can only come from an "abundance of energies, from pleasure; writing... is heightened life"—and so is his memoir." - Publishers Weekly

"Kertész, like Beckett, is deadly serious and his work is a profound meditation on the great and enduring themes of love, death and the problem of evil." - The Nation

"The opposite of a Bildungsroman, its defining features are not organic development and continuity but rupture and shock ... Kertész attempts to reconnect to humanity, to define himself as an individual, as the subject of his own history." - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"A counterpart of Günter Grass's Peeling The Onion. Just as accurate and relentless, a book of autobiographical self-questioning, which undermines any kind of dogmatism." - Neue Zurcher Zeitung

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Imre Kertész was born in Hungary in 1929. At the age of fourteen he was imprisoned at Auschwitz and later at the Buchenwald concentration camps. He is the author of 14 books of fiction and non-fiction, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002 for "writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history."

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