The Path­seek­er

Imre Kertesz; Tim Wilkin­son, trans.
  • Review
By – January 26, 2012

Imre Kertész, award­ed the 2002 Nobel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture, is best known for works which draw from his expe­ri­ences as a teenag­er in Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps. The Path­seek­er, pub­lished in Hun­gar­i­an in 1977 and new­ly trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish, is anoth­er semi-auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal return to events dur­ing the Holocaust. 

The Path­seek­er, a man we learn lit­tle about, embarks on a jour­ney that is both mys­te­ri­ous and haunt­ing. In the lim­it­ed space of this novel­la details are spare and vague. If we read very care­ful­ly, with a tuned ear and sharp sens­es, we real­ize we have trav­elled to the site of a for­mer Ger­man con­cen­tra­tion camp, amidst a town pop­u­lat­ed with peo­ple who deny its his­to­ry. If the clues pass us by, we are nev­er­the­less involved with the man every step of the way, watch­ing as he begins to unlock secrets buried in his deep­est memory.

An excel­lent after­ward by the trans­la­tor high­lights the clas­sic lit­er­ary touch­stones the author wrote in to place the sto­ry in its exact time, loca­tion, and polit­i­cal con­text. There is much to con­sid­er in this slim, but pow­er­ful tale. Afterward.

Pen­ny Metsch, MLS, for­mer­ly a school librar­i­an on Long Island and in New York City, now focus­es on ear­ly lit­er­a­cy pro­grams in Hobo­ken, NJ.

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