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Imre Kertész,
Hungarian author
(born November 9, 1929)

Received this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

On October 10, 2002, the Swedish Royal Academy announced in Stockholm that this year's Nobel Prize for Literature will be awarded to Imre Kertész. The committee awarding the world's highest recognition in literature has decided for the first time for a Hungarian author to receive the Nobel Prize.

The prize will be received on December 10, 2002, at the celebration held on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death, in keeping with tradition.
Imre Kertész was born in Budapest on November 9th, 1929. He was at Auschwitz at the age of 14. In 1948 he graduated from high school in Budapest. Between 1948 and 1950 he worked for the newspapers "Világosság", then "Esti Budapest", in 1951 he was a factory worker, and since 1953 he has been a freelance writer and translator.

His first novel, Sorstalanság (Fateless 1992) was published in 1975 after several years of waiting, and it eventually enjoyed great success. The hero of the novel is an adolescent boy who became a man through his horrible experiences in the Nazis' death camp. Kaddis a meg nem született gyermekért (Kaddish for a Child not Born, 1990) is both the continuation of and the answer to his first novel, as the main character chooses a childless and thus finished fate. The writer's main theme is the twentieth century's horrific history, hate, genocide, and the inhumanity living within man's soul.

"Imre Kertész's work explores the question of whether individual existence and thought are possible in an age when people live virtually completely at the mercy of the political powers", reasoned the Academy. "For Kertész, Auschwitz is not an accidental, exceptional event, but rather the final and logical phase of that humiliation and destruction into which the modern world casts human beings", the Academy continued.

The 72 year old Hungarian author, Imre Kertész, is one whose work, especially Sorstalanság (Fateless), is also widely known abroad. According to the Swedish Royal Academy's explanation, the prize is being given for literary work "which is the advocate of the individual's vulnerable experience in the face of history's barbarian tyranny".

His works include:
A nyomkereső (1977),
("The pathfinder"),
Kaddis a meg nem született gyermekért (1990),
(Kaddish for a Child not Born)
Az angol lobogó (1991),
("The English flag"),
Gályanapló (1992),
("Galley Diary"),
A holocaust mint kultúra (1993),
("The Holocaust as Culture"),
Jegyzőkönyv (1993),
Valaki más: a változás krónikája (1997),
("I - Another: chronicle of a metamorphosis"),
A gondolatnyi csend, amíg a kivégzőosztag újratölt (1998),
("Moments of silence while the execution squad reloads"),

His works have been translated into several languages. He himself translates from German into Hungarian, and he has translated the works of Freud, Hoffmannstahl, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein, among others, into Hungarian. In 1983 he received the Füst Milán Prize, in 1989 the József Attila Prize, in 1992 the Soros Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1996 he was awarded the Márai Award. In 1997 he was honored with the Kossuth Award. In 1995 he received the Brandenburg Literature Award, and in 1997 he received the grand award at the Leipzig Book Fair, primarily for his work entitled Sorstalanság.

In 1997 he received the German Linguistic and Poetic Academy's highest award, the Friedrich Gundolf Award, for his contribution to spreading German culture abroad. In May of 2000 he was honored with the Herder Award, and in November of that year he was awarded a literary award by "Die Welt", a national German weekly paper. In 2001 he became a member of the German honor society (Pour le Mérite), which is the highest honor an artist can be given in Germany. And on October 9th he was honored for his life's work with the Hans Sahl Award.
Imre Kertész feels that it is an enormous honor to be the first Hungarian writer to receive the Nobel Prize for literature.

 

   



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