CULTURE

Nobelist Kertesz is translated for the Greek market

When Hungarian writer Imre Kertesz was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature in October, many responded by noting that another unknown had been honored for the third successive year. But Kertesz was already established as a contemporary European writer. Kertesz recently visited Athens to promote his first work translated into Greek, «Ich, ein Anderer,» which examines change in Europe between the years 1991 and 1995 – from the writer’s perspective. The title was translated from German by Iota Lagoudakou and has been released locally by Kastaniotis Publishers, holder of the writer’s publishing rights in Greece. Commenting on the Hungarian writer, Kastaniotis’s foreign rights manager, Antaios Chrysostomidis, contended that a decision had been reached to translate Kertesz’s «Ich, ein Anderer» for the Greek market prior to the Nobel Prize’s announcement. The book had garnered plenty of acclaim from German critics who rated it as one of the best 10 novels written in the 20th century. Chrysostomidis, who attended news conferences given by Kertesz at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, described the writer as a citizen of the world with a Central European outlook. While discussing his work in Frankfurt, Chrysostomidis said, the Hungarian novelist noted that a good writer is guided by continuity and writes the same book over and over again. The atrocities at Auschwitz – a real-life experience for Kertesz and the backbone of his work – cannot be covered in a lifetime, the writer told his Frankfurt audience, said Chrysostomidis. At the age of 15, Kertesz was deported to the Nazi concentration camp in Poland and later taken to the Buchenwald camp in Nazi Germany, from which he was liberated in 1945. Despite his personal suffering, Kertesz acknowledged in Frankfurt that overexposing the Holocaust story carried the risk of trivializing this monumental disaster. He also warned that the atrocity was in danger of turning «kitsch,» citing Steven Spielberg’s film «Schindler’s List» as a bad example. From Buchenwald, Kertesz returned to Hungary and soon after began working for a Budapest newspaper, Vilagossag, but was dismissed in 1951 when it adopted the party line. After serving two years in the military, Kertesz has since supported himself as an independent writer and translator of German authors such as Nietzsche, Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Freud, Roth, Wittgenstein and Canetti, all of whom have made impact on the Hungarian’s own writing.