Kaddish For An Unborn Child – Imre Kertész

The first word of this haunting novel is ‘no’. It is how the narrator, a middle-aged Hungarian Jewish writer, answers an acquaintance who asks if he has a child and it is how he answered his, now ex-, wife when she told him she wanted a baby. 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.

This book is so dense, filled with Kertész deepest conscious thoughts, he writes this kaddish for his unborn child, explaining all the reasons why he could never bring himself to father a child into his world.

His writings are painfully honest, it looks like a monologue filled with negation and destruction written in a very lyrical and feverish way with lots of philosophical pondering; this novel is on its own way melancholy and melodramatic and due to what he had to experienced, we can allow him that.

He had to deal with being a survivor of Auschwitz and a huge aftershock of Nazism and afterward the collapse of his marriage and divorce and of course the big issue of not wanting to carry on the lineage.

There is a lot of repetition in the book and even though it seems like the author has absolute knowledge of what he wants, it feels like he is in some way desperate. Basically I think he had lots of things to say and was trying to find the most accurate way to put those thoughts out.

I think to Kertész and probably to many Holocaust survivors; The Holocaust will always have a present shadow own their life.

This book will not take you long to read even when is profound and moving.


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