Imre Kertész was born in Budapest on 9 November 1929. He was deported to
concentration camp in the summer of 1944. After being held in Buchenwald
and Auschwitz, he was liberated at the age of 16.
Under the Communist dictatorship, he avoided literary life and made his living
writing musical comedies and translations. Starting in 1960, he spent 13 years
writing his first novel, Fateless, which reflects on the nature of dictatorships.
The novel was only published in 1975 and went almost completely unnoticed
until the political transition. Starting in the 1990s, his works received greater
domestic and international attention. On 10 October 2002, he became the first Hungarian writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. According to the press release of the Swedish Academy, “The refusal to compromise in Kertész’s stance can be perceived clearly in his style, which is reminiscent of a thickset hawthorn hedge, dense and thorny for unsuspecting visitors. But he relieves his readers of the burden of compulsory emotions and inspires a singular freedom of thought.” The novel was his life’s work, but his essays and literary diary are also of outstanding significance, and his books have been translated into dozens of languages. His work was awarded innumerable international prizes, and he also received the most important awards in Hungary as well, including the Kossuth Award and the Hungarian Order of St. Stephen.
He died on 31 March 2016 in Budapest, following a long illness.