Read Liquidation by Imre Kertész Tim Wilkinson Online


Imre Kertesz’s savagely lyrical and suspenseful new novel traces the continuing echoes the Holocaust and communism in the consciousness of contemporary Eastern Europe.Ten years after the fall of communism, a writer named B. commits suicide, devastating his circle and deeply puzzling his friend Kingsbitter. For among B.’s effects, Kingsbitter finds a play that eerily predicImre Kertesz’s savagely lyrical and suspenseful new novel traces the continuing echoes the Holocaust and communism in the consciousness of contemporary Eastern Europe.Ten years after the fall of communism, a writer named B. commits suicide, devastating his circle and deeply puzzling his friend Kingsbitter. For among B.’s effects, Kingsbitter finds a play that eerily predicts events after his death. Why did B.–who was born at Auschwitz and miraculously survived–take his life? As Kingsbitter searches for the answer –and for the novel he is convinced lies hidden among his friend’s papers–Liquidation becomes an inquest into the deeply compromised inner life of a generation. The result is moving, revelatory and haunting....

Title : Liquidation
Author :
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ISBN : 9781400075058
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 130 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Liquidation Reviews

  • Aubrey
    2019-04-23 17:45

    He did not understand how I imagined Florence was not a Florence of murderers when everything nowadays belongs to murderers.If things were left up to the people who view social justice movements as inevitable, they'd all be dead or enslaved or worse, and everyone who's already dead or enslaved or worse would be wiped from history entirely. These are the people for whom there are no monsters under the bed, or on the streets, or speaking in front of a podium, so what, exactly, will spawn a surge towards liberty? Ethical capitalism? Choosing one military industrial complex over another for reasons of the novelty of gender? Being polite and kind and grateful to those who have hinted very strongly over the years that they'd like nothing more than to shoot those you profess to be friends with in the face? Now, you can't apply Liquidation to all genocides or governments that favor the use of torture as a means for justice, as that'll only result in the annihilation that is one of the characters claiming that everyone is Jewish, thus signifying Jewish people have only other Jewish people to blame for their oppression. You can, however, refer back to it if you ever feel the need to tell those being subversive or antagonizing or contemptuous of the status quo that it's really not that bad; if they see fit to exit stage left, all they need to do is be a dear and leave behind some masterwork for us to incorporate while leaving their trials and tribulations far behind.The problem with reading books like this is it makes one unfit for reading practically everything else. Why read something that doesn't in some way deal with one systematic erasure or another? Will it make you happy when the bombs come? Will it save you and your offspring when what you could never have imagined comes to pass? Sure, you need to make a paycheck, but you can do that while facing the fact that you're able to do so only through stepping on the backs of others, right? Perhaps we need to raise the bar of adulthood from the level of the ability to do taxes, brown-nose, and beat one's children to something involving an engagement with reality that doesn't think Israel absolutely had to happen, and that the most one can be is ethically political, not apolitical. There's another side of this that talks about the right one has to kill themself, but there are so many do-gooder eugenicists pretending they're anything but a less popular branch than their Nazi cousins using disabled people as poster faces to support their argument that they've reduced the issue to little more than pull yourself up by your bootstraps ethnic cleansing. There are other sides that talk about communism and metafiction and Judaism, but you're going to have to go somewhere else for that. Preferably to someone who's Jewish. They, unlike practically all others, will not be pulling out the Shoah as a rhetorical trump card.This being without Self is the disaster, the true Evil, said Bee, though, comically enough, without your being evil yourself, albeit capable of any evil act.This book will make you think if you let it. Sure, the fictional tricks are cute, but you're engaging with literature, not the latest release of the iPhone cult. You could try your hardest to avoid thinking about how all this horrible things happened and keep on happening, but then what exactly are you doing reading Kertész in the first place. You'd be better off with Kafka, whose deathbed wishes were violated for the sake of your entertainment and academic wankery, or with any number of writers who were defanged by their decision to not burn their works. Survival of the fittest, remember? Anything can be made to fit once the troublesome implements are reduced and the survivors are domesticated.The state is always the same. The only reason it financed literature up till now was in order to liquidate it.Do you kill yourself to avoid conformation? Or do you not kill yourself because, no matter what happens, you can never be conformed? Whatever the case, you'll be proof of the system, living or dead.P.S. This is my 501st review. I missed the 500th mark for whatever reason, but better late than never. Such a ways I have come.

  • RK-ique
    2019-05-14 00:49

    I rate few books as 5 stars these days. This one is a life-changer. The writing, at least in the French translation from the Hungarian, is beautiful to read. Beautiful in the way that so much of Beckett is beautiful. I have previously said that Kertész book, Etre sans destin, is the best book that I have read on the holocaust. It portrays our human capacity for cruelty in an absurd world through the eyes of a child living through the holocaust as Kertész experienced it. The absurdity of it all leaves the reader reeling. In Liquidation, Kertész takes us back a step to a man born in Auschwitz. The man, B, a writer and translator, has committed suicide after a life of trying to understand Auschwitz. He is finally left facing the absurdity of his own project in life.The short novel looks back from several viewpoints: a play written by B; an editor, Keserü, who is obsessed with both B and a novel he believes B to have written; and, a letter written by B to his ex-wife. The book is a harsh commentary both on being Jewish and on being human post holocaust. How can we live with this absurdity? Why do we continue to live in a world of death, suffering, poverty, starvation and torture which are all created by other humans, which are all unnecessary, all absurd? I can't help but wonder. We make no sense but we go on. (Forgive me my translation.) "We live in the era of catastrophe, each of us is a carrier of the catastrophe, that's why we need a particular lifestyle if we hope to survive, he says. The man of catastrophe has no destiny, no qualities, no character. His frightful society - the state, the dictatorship, call it what you will - attracting him with the force of a dizzying whirl until he stops resisting and the chaos springs up in him like a hot geyser - and that chaos becomes his natural element. For him, there is no longer a possibility to return to a centre of Me, towards an unwavering and undeniable certainty of Me: he is, in the most literal sense of the word, lost. The being without Me, is the catastrophe, true evil, and bizarrely, says Bé, without being evil himself, is capable of all wickedness."Is this not also the world of Camus in L'étranger? Both Camus and Kertész were able to find a reason to continue with life. Neither Camus' Meursault nor Kertész' Bé can find that reason. I'm not sure.

  • Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
    2019-05-15 23:44

    This novel alludes to Mann's Doktor Faustus and Roth's The Radetzky March (among others). Those are books that attempt to sum up an entire historical progression, to diagnose it and analyse it in some sort of definitive way, using the age-old method of writing a vast, integral novel. Kertesz is dealing with some of the same historical sweep here, his novel is about people who have survived the depredations of ideology, of Auschwitz, of life behind the Iron Curtain. Now, as ideology seems to recede in the late 90s, how do they make sense of what has been? Adrian Leverkuhn revoked the Ninth Symphony; can B., Auschwitz survivor, reluctant writer and consummate nihilist revoke Auschwitz? This is an odd little novel, fragmented, prone to sudden changes of narrator, person and format, inconclusive, sketchy but still vivid, rich with resonance and ideas in a manner akin to those magisterial novels alluded to earlier, with none of their elaborate narrative scaffolding. It's more than a little disturbing, and even a little skimpy at times, but it's a brilliant skimpiness, the gesture of a writer who has been in hell and is unwilling to reduce it to kitsch, even by simply telling it like it was. I'll stack this novel against a raft of boys in pyjamas of any stripe. I need to get a hold of Fatelessness, which is a far less oblique take on some of this subject matter, apparently, and see how it compares.

  • Eugene
    2019-04-20 23:50

    beckett and bernhard may be the basis of "Bee," the writer whose suicide is the vacuum at the center of this novel. as such it makes sense that under the layer of gossipy bedswapping tales by intelligentsia and almost crudely titillating descriptions of common breakdowns and various life botchings is the novel's real content--our natural state of depravity which makes such crudeness and vacuity our continued mode of being. the book is either great because it shows how literature redeems the banality of our evil world or because it honestly depicts how our great arts are debased and fundamentally banal. a dark choice.the articulation of the former by the book's sometimes narrator: "But I believe in writing--nothing else; just writing. Man may live like a worm, but he writes like a god. There was a time when that secret was known, but now it has been forgotten; the world is composed of disintegrating fragments, an incoherent dark chaos, sustained by writing alone. If you have a concept of the world, if you have not yet forgotten all that has happened, that you have a world at all, it is writing that has created that for you, and ceaselessly goes on creating it" (97).and while the book is about the impossibility of existence after auschwitz, the parts that affected me most were strangely those about the comparably negligibly-weighted topic of the literary life. but i think that's the truth and greatness of kertesz--to speak unsentimentally and defiantly crudely. a crudeness that is only possible due to an elemental refinement, a rare ability to look sincerely at our's a long passage, capturing both the pleasures of literary life as well as the self-awareness of its vanity and foolishness:"The fact is that in my nineteenth or twentieth year...a book came into my hands... I knew about the existence of this book only from other books, in the way that an astronomer infers the existence of an unknown celestial body from the motion of other planets; yet in those days, the era of undiscoverable reasons, it was not possible to get hold of it for some undiscoverable reason. I happened to be grinding through university at the time; though I did not have much money, I staked it all on the venture, mobilizing antiquarian booksellers, denying myself meals in order to acquire an old edition. I then read the bulky volume in less than three days, sitting on a bench in the public garden of a city square, as spring was in the air outside while a constant, depressing gloom reigned within my sublet room. I recall to this day the adventures of the imagination that I lived through at the time while I read in the book that the Ninth Symphony had been withdrawn. I felt privileged, like someone who had become privy to a secret reserved for few; like someone who had been suddenly awakened in order to have the world's irredeemable condition revealed to him, all at once, in the blinding light of a judgement. Still, I don't think it was that book which carried me into my fateful career. I finished reading it; then, like all the others, it gradually died down within me under the dense, soft layers of my subsequent reading matter... a person becomes a literary editor, and later a publisher's reader, our of error in the first place. In any event, literature is the trap that captures him. To be more precise, reading: reading as a narcotic which pleasantly blurs the merciless outlines of the life that holds sway over us" (38-9).

  • Janet
    2019-04-29 18:45

    This small (129 pp) novel, published two years after Imre Kertesz won the Nobel Prize in 2002, bears an epigraph from Beckett’s Molloy: “Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining.” I picked it out of our local neighborhood ‘Little Library’" I always browse on when I walk in that direction--talk about serendipity, to read this when I am still reeling from the death of the Hungarian American writer Les Plesko. I've been investigating the literature of Eastern Europe, especially Hungary, in a certain respect looking for clues to the mindset that set my friend literally ‘over the edge.’ Oddly enough, Kertesz, a great and bleak Hungarian, a Beckettian minaturist, was a notable absence from Les’ reading list (see my blog entry here, A Very Special Reading List). WAs it that they were so similar? Liquidation concerns an editor working in the newly ‘liberated’ literary economy of post-iron-curtain Hungary--by name, Kingbitter. Particularly he is examining the literary estate of his friend B. (or Bee)—a suicide. The writer is so named for a tattoo on his thigh, B plus a four digit number. Why the thigh? Why the four digits? Because he was born at Auschwitz, and there wasn’t room for a tattoo on an infant’s arm, and not many were born in the death camps. The novel, about the death of B and his literary legacy, had tremendous overtones for me, especially B’s five page suicide note which is the heart of the book, found by B’s lover Sarah. This short portion, the writer’s losing faith in himself, in the power of his project, the power of the word, hit me square in the chest: “I have no wish to pitch my stall in the literary flea market; shoddy goods, not fit to place in human hands. Then again, I have no wish to be picked up, prodded and then tossed back. If have finished what I have to do, and that is no one else’s business.”Also this, as the editor considers the note, imagining the suicide as B portrays it in the note: “It is no easy matter, in truth, to assess the difference between stylization and reality, especially if one’s dealing with a writer, I thought to myself; they stylize themselves to the m point that in the end, as the adage goes, the style is the man.” Surprising that such a bleak book would come from a Nobelist, the project of the Nobel being the affirmation of human life. The end sends you back to the beginning in this house of mirrors, where Kingbitter, the editor and narrator, reads a play by B about Kingbitter, Sarah, Kurti and Oblath, a Beckettian thing which forsees precisesly the discussion they have about his suicide and papers after the fact. Whether I “liked” this book or not, whether I really completely understood it, there is no doubt the biggest of issues being confronted here—what it is to be ‘born’ into Auschwitz, which of course, everybody in our world has been. How to live in full knowledge that you—we—have been born into monstrosity. Add to that the layers of guilt and compliance and defiance of living in a police state. Add to that the writers’ tenuous faith that writing matters, that it means something.Quite a lot packed into 129 pages.

  • Jasmine
    2019-04-22 23:43

    This is a book about a play about real life. It is also a book about a book about a marriage that has ended. This is a book about what it means to be a writer after Auschwitz. This is a book that does not bother to make any sense. This is a book that cannot remember which parts of the story it wishes to tell. This is a book that cannot actually tell the story that it is attempting to tell. This is a book that cannot be explained. This is a book about obsession. Hungry

  • Greta
    2019-04-19 18:41

    InterviewImre Kertész, The Art of Fiction No. 220, The Paris Review No. 205, summer 2013Interviewed by Luisa ZielinskiKertész was born in 1929, in Budapest, into a Jewish family. He was deported to Auschwitz in 1944, and then to Buchenwald. The Holocaust and its aftermath are the central subjects of his best-known novels—Fatelessness (1975), Fiasco (1988), Kaddish for an Unborn Child (1990), and Liquidation (2003)—as well as his memoirs, such as Dossier K. (2006). When Kertész was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 2002, the committee lauded his writing for upholding the “fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history.” Yet for Kertész, the Holocaust is not the stuff of personal anecdotes. Instead, it represents a rupture in civilization, the implications of which he explores far beyond his own personal experience. “Auschwitz,” as he has said, “is everywhere.”Excerpts from the interview :INTERVIEWERDo you consider the Fatelessness, Fiasco, Kaddish for an Unborn Child, and Liquidation tetralogy your life’s work?KERTÉSZNo, it was some dumb Hungarian journalist who came up with this notion of a tetralogy. Back when I’d only published Fatelessness and Fiasco and Kaddish for an Unborn Child, he said I had conceived a trilogy. He really knew nothing of my work....In your Nobel Lecture you said, “The nausea and depression to which I awoke each morning led me at once into the world I intended to describe.” Did writing subdue this condition?KERTÉSZI was suspended in a world that was forever foreign to me, one I had to reenter each day with no hope of relief. That was true of Stalinist Hungary, but even more so under National Socialism. The latter inspired that feeling even more intensely. In Stalinism, you simply had to keep going, if you could. The Nazi regime, on the other hand, was a mechanism that worked with such brutal speed that “going on” meant bare survival. The Nazi system swallowed everything. It was a machine working so efficiently that most people did not even have the chance to understand the events they lived through.To me, there were three phases, in a literary sense. The first phase is the one just before the Holocaust. Times were tough, but you could get through somehow. The second phase, described by writers like Primo Levi, takes place in medias res, as though voiced from the inside, with all the astonishment and dismay of witnessing such events. These writers described what happened as something that would drive any man to madness—at least any man who continued to cling to old values. And what happened was beyond the witnesses’ capacity for coping. They tried to resist it as much as they could, but it left a mark on the rest of their lives. The third phase concerns literary works that came into existence after National Socialism and which examine the loss of old values. Writers such as Jean Améry or Tadeusz Borowski conceived their works for people who were already familiar with history and were aware that old values had lost their meaning. What was at stake was the creation of new values from such immense suffering, but most of those writers perished in the attempt. However, what they did bequeath to us is a radical tradition in literature.INTERVIEWERDo you consider your own works part of this radical tradition?KERTÉSZYes, I do, except I’m not sure whether it is my work or my illness that’s going to kill me now. Well, at least I tried to go on for as long as I could. So obviously I haven’t yet died in the attempt to come to terms with history, and indeed it looks as though I will be dying of a bourgeois disease instead—I am about to die of a very bourgeois Parkinson’s.INTERVIEWERIs writing a means of survival?KERTÉSZI was able use my own life to study how somebody can survive this particularly cruel brand of totalitarianism. I didn’t want to commit suicide, but then I didn’t want to become a writer either—at least not initially. I rejected that idea for a long time, but then I realized that I would have to write, write about the astonishment and the dismay of the witness—Is that what you are going to do to us? How could we survive something like this, and understand it, too?Look, I don’t want to deny that I was a prisoner at Auschwitz and that I now have a Nobel Prize. What should I make of that? And what should I make of the fact that I survived, and continue to survive? At least I feel that I experienced something extraordinary, because not only did I live through those horrors, but I also managed to describe them, in a way that is bearable, acceptable, and nonetheless part of this radical tradition. Those of us who were brave enough to stare down this abyss—Borowski, Shalamov, Améry—well, there aren’t too many of us. For these writers, writing was always a prelude to suicide. Jean Améry’s gun was always present, in both his articles and his life, always by his side.I am somebody who survived all of it, somebody who saw the Gorgon’s head and still retained enough strength to finish a work that reaches out to people in a language that is humane. The purpose of literature is for people to become educated, to be entertained, so we can’t ask them to deal with such gruesome visions. I created a work representing the Holocaust as such, but without this being an ugly literature of horrors.Perhaps I’m being impertinent, but I feel that my work has a rare quality—I tried to depict the human face of this history, I wanted to write a book that people would actually want to read....INTERVIEWERHow do you write these days?KERTÉSZIt’s tricky, because I can no longer use a computer. Nor am I able to write by hand. But I’ve got all this material I’ve collected over the course of my life—my diaries, my reports, Liquidation. With all of that done, I no longer have to write anything new. I’ve finished my work.INTERVIEWERThen let’s talk about your last novel, Liquidation. What was the initial spark of inspiration?KERTÉSZI had originally intended to write a play. I thought I was done writing novels. But I wanted to depict this moment during the regime change in 1990, a moment that I felt had dramatic value itself. Then it struck me that I was wrong—I’m not a playwright, nor am I particularly interested in the stage. The stage, for me, seemed an obstacle, an inbuilt disadvantage. And so I tore up the play’s manuscript, understanding that this was a topic for a great novel in a small format.I was interested in examining how different people coped with the regime change. I had met so many people, read their biographies, and listened to their stories, most of which were full of lies. It was a society of informants. But combining that with the legacy of Auschwitz—that’s what drew me in. I tried to find a key figure. Someone who did not live through a concentration camp but whose life is cast in its shadow. That’s when I found the characters Judit and B., the editor whose career is a fiasco and the writer who commits suicide.INTERVIEWERFukuyama’s “end of history” has become something of a cliché perhaps, but I wonder whether that was on your mind when you were writing Liquidation.KERTÉSZI’ve never thought of it like that. What did you make of the novel?INTERVIEWERIt seems to me that your novel is akin to something like this end of history. It’s written from the vantage point of the early 2000s, yet it captures the moment at the fall of Communism in 1990, a moment at which various currents merge and collide, forming a point of crystallization, and possibly liquidation, for twentieth-century history.KERTÉSZActually, you’re completely right. It’s exactly like that. We’ve got the man who was born in Auschwitz, and then Judit, the woman who experiences Auschwitz through him and who attempts to find a conclusion to her own history. But then she escapes that world and marries a man who is untouched by totalitarianism. She decides to have children, and thus commits herself to life. That was the secret, the gesture—bearing children is the gesture that creates the possibility of continued life. Faced with choosing between life and death, she opts for life.All right, that’s enough. That was my last interview.INTERVIEWERFor today?KERTÉSZForever. Now it’s done.(

  • Nate D
    2019-05-06 18:24

    There is no explanation for... history.The second half of 20th-century Hungarian history, as with that of much of eastern europe, is caught in the jaws of a vice formed of fascism on one side and totalitarian communism on the other, epochs which understandably stamped indelible marks into everyone who lived through them. The more I investigate this era, the more I realize how I cannot begin to fathom the kinds of outward and inward struggle, compromise, and perseverance they must have required. But books like this bring me closer. Not so much by capturing the experience of "real" events, as by capturing a terrifying wholesale unmooring of self and reality, that renders inadequate the act (however eloquent as this) of attempting to capture the experience at all.Indeed, I was also quite sure that if I was to sign the piece of paper -- under physical duress, naturally -- I would be able to explain it to myself in just the same way as the variant, naturally more agreeable, in which I did not sign, and -- how can I put it? -- living with that uncertainty was no easy matter. I struggled with critical philosophical issues in self-imposed solitary confinement: I am no great believer in metaphysical powers, that's for sure, but ethical categories suddenly seemed to me to be rocky in the extreme. I was forced to the acknowledgment of the stark fact that man is, both physically and morally, and utterly vulnerable being -- not an easy thing to accept in a society whose ideals and practice are determined solely by a police view of the world from which there is no escape and where no explanation is satisfactory, not even if those alternatives are set before me by external duress rather than by myself, so that I actually have nothing to do with what I do or what is done to me.

  • Don
    2019-04-20 18:49

    "I mean... was it any good, or bad?""What does good and bad mean with a novel? Anyway, he himself never called it a novel.""What did he call it then?""A manuscript, 'my piece'.""What was it about? What was the story?"I hesitated before plunging in all the same."The struggle of a man and woman. They love each other to start with, but later on the woman wants a child from the man, and he is unable to forgive the woman for that. He subjects the woman to various miseries in order to break and undermine her faith in the world. He drives her into a severe psychological crisis, to the verge of suicide, and when he realizes this, he himself commits suicide instead of the woman."You were silent. Then you asked why the man was punishing the woman merely because she wanted a child."Because it is not permissible to want anything.'"Why not?""Because of Auschwitz."

  • Joseph
    2019-04-30 18:30

    I am very glad that I read this book back-to-back with Fatelessness. Here, Kertesz accomplishes in 130 pages what many writers are unable to in 500+. Here, Kertesz manages to bring me to tears on three seperate occasions. I will not summarize this book nor provide my explanation of its premise but I do intend to drive home exactly how absolutely necessary it is -- like not as an opinion but in an objective sense that I can't actually explain -- to read this book. Unforgettable.

  • Roger DeBlanck
    2019-05-11 00:31

    Kertesz’s novel Liquidation is a powerful philosophical study of the lingering aftermath of the Holocaust. The main character, Kingbitter, investigates the motives for suicide of his friend, simply named B. As the narrative unfolds, the meaning of Auschwitz becomes clear: how can someone like B. who survived the atrocities of Auschwitz not succumb to eventual self-destruction? B.’s fate is one of the most tragic stories in contemporary literature. After surviving Auschwitz, he ends up committing suicide because his life becomes an obsession for trying to make sense of his plight. His hatred, disgust, and sadness eat him up. B. believes that living can never be permissible until he can make sense of Auschwitz. The madness of trying to figure out how it could have happened disallows any chance for him to find peace. He lived as though he was dying, just like at Auschwitz. He had to kill himself to eliminate the pain of his memories. He tried to die every day and start anew, but with no sense to be gained in this self-destructive process, he simply wore down. Auschwitz killed him, even after he survived. Kertesz’s book speaks volumes for the meaning of life and what compels the reasons for living in a world where murder has been perfected, as it was with great organization and order at Auschwitz? Kertesz explores the depravity and hopelessness of humanity facing the desolate question of how to find normalcy and honor after experiencing the horrors of a concentration camp.

  • Tim
    2019-04-27 20:30

    Harter, roher Stoff über das Leben, die Liebe, und die Vergangenheit. Literarisch ausgezeichnet, allerdings keineswegs leicht zu lesen. Kertész trat mir als Holocaust-Überlebender und Schriftsteller in Budapest in Erscheinung, ich werde ihm mit seinem nobelpreistragenden Roman eines Schicksallosen wohl eine weitere Chance geben (müssen).

  • Clara
    2019-05-14 00:48

    Kertész finds a concise theme that resonates through the most banal and sacred aspects of interpersonal life, exploring the marriage and suicide of a writer and translator (B) born in Auschwitz, whose last remaining work is a play that uncannily parallels -- indeed is interwoven with (or simply is) -- the discourse of B's friends following his suicide. The text is self-consious yet humble in a way that only post-nobel laureate writing can be: the primary (though not always) narrator, B's friend and some-time editor Kingbitter declares "...literary talent may, at least partly, be no more than this impassive eye, this state of strangeness that can subsequently be coaxed into speech," and the text engagingly switches perspective and mode from first to third person and from play script to prose in a manner which, far from being gimmicky, compelled me to read the (short) book in two sittings. Liquidation refers to the dismantling of Jewish communities; the liquidation of Auschwitz in the final days of the European theater of WWII; the awkward shift (liquidation) of bureaucracy from communist-allied to post-cold war government in '89-'90; the liquidation of a publishing company in 1999 where Kingbitter works; and more generally, the liquidation of life itself.

  • Richard Risemberg
    2019-05-03 21:33

    I read this in a Spanish translation, which was elegant and affecting. In some ways the story revolves around the primary narrator (Keseru)'s cluelessness, and the reader's slow discovery of how the hidden gravity of Auschwitz pulls "B," the unseen character about whom everyone's lives revolve, out of their orbit, leaving them centerless.

  • Sunny
    2019-04-24 19:27

    I thought fatelessness was incredible but couldn’t really engage with this book for some reason. It’s about a bloke who finds the papers of someone he knows who survived Auschwitz but decided to commit suicide anyway. This is all predicted in a play that this person wrote. It’s a very short book but I still found it a little confusing and not that engaging. Here was one of my favourite lines from the book:• Disaster man has no fate, no qualities, and no character. his horrific social milieu – the state, dictatorship , call it what you will – tugs on him with the tractive force of a colossal whirlpool, until he gives up his resistance and chaos bursts in on him like a boiling – hot geyser, after which chaos becomes home to him. For him there can be no return to some centre of the self, a solid and irrefutable self-certainty; in other words, he is lost, in the most authentic sense of the word. this being without self is the disaster, the true evil, said Bee, thought comically enough, without your being evil yourself, albeit capable of any evil act. A new validity has been gained by the biblical injunction not to be led into temptation and beware of knowing thyself, else though shalt be dammed, he said.

  • Maurizio Manco
    2019-05-16 00:38

    "Io credo nella scrittura. In nient'altro, se non nella scrittura. L'uomo vive come un verme, ma scrive come gli dèi. C'è stato un tempo in cui questo segreto lo si conosceva, ma oggi ormai lo si è dimenticato: il mondo è fatto di cocci che cadono da tutte le parti, è un caos sconnesso e oscuro, che soltanto la scrittura riesce a tenere in piedi. Se hai un'immagine del mondo, se non hai ancora dimenticato tutto quello che è già successo, se hai un mondo, è la scrittura ad aver creato tutto questo per te, e continua senza interruzione a crearlo, è il logos, la ragnatela invisibile che tiene insieme la nostra vita." (pp. 88, 89)

  • Allan MacDonell
    2019-04-22 00:25

    When a Nobel writer who is a Holocaust survivor writes a novel about a Holocaust survivor writer who commits suicide, expect a book that will not shirk the weight of the world. Whether the dead writer of Imre Kertész’s Liquidation has been crushed by that weight, or if the character can be interpreted to have melded with the enormity of existence is immaterial, really. The point is that this slim volume stands up to everything life has to throw down on it.

  • Ozan YILMAZ
    2019-05-01 00:33

    Kiymeti pek az bilinenlerden.

  • Ania Chrzanowska
    2019-04-26 17:35

    Loved every piece of it

  • David
    2019-04-19 19:22

    The characters in Liquidation all suffer from a form of spiritual dislocation resulting from the demise of communism in Eastern Europe. All of them were dissidents of a sort under communism, and their identities were necessarily shaped by their opposition to the old regime, however subtle that resistance might have been—often little more than spiritual and cultural. The demise of communism means the demise of their reason for being alive, and Liquidation is an attempt to dramatize this existential predicament.The shadow of the Holocaust also hangs over the characters, and in fact the meaning of the experience of Auschwitz is one of the central preoccupations of the novel. The title, Liquidation, has multiple meanings: The liquidation of Jews at Auschwitz; the liquidation of the publishing company the main character, Kingbitter, works for in post-communist Hungary; the liquidation of communism in Eastern Europe; Sarah’s liquidation (burning) of B.’s novel, Kingbitter’s quest for which is the central force driving the “action” of the novel. The book begins with Kingbitter, reading a play by his deceased friend B., a writer and Auschwitz survivor, that narrates events that have occurred after his suicide, events he could not possibly have witnessed. Liquidation is an experimental novel that deliberately confuses the issue of where the “reality” of the story lies. Also, there’s a theme of peoples lives as stories, stories that they tell themselves and stories that are spun by larger historical forces, and that are told through them. One train of thought the novel sets in motion is the question of what it means to be a dissident. I suppose one can argue that, in one sense, it was easy to be a dissident in communist Eastern Europe, as it is in, say, Iran today. Of course it was hard in the sense that the penalties for thought-crime could be severe--duh, the sense that matters most--but it was easy in the sense that the thoughts you had to think to cross the line into thought crime were not particularly radical, at least from the point of view of western liberal democrats. AND, in an environment that punishes thought crime, especially in so crude and obvious a manner, just thinking heretical thoughts qualifies you for a dissident status of a sort. In a place like communist Eastern Europe, or contemporary Iran, it was/is possible to be a dissident intellectual in a way that it is difficult to do in the liberal democratic West, since you can be punished simply for thinking the wrong thoughts—and I mean really punished, not just not asked to be on Nightline. It’s enough to think and write and publish them to be considered a political dissident.In the liberal democratic West, on the other hand, and especially in the US, the right to free speech and the right to dissent is such a fundamental part of the national self-image that it’s possible to say and publish just about anything without much in the way of consequences (although this needs to be qualified somewhat post-9/11). Also, the commodification and co-optation of the idea of rebellion is so far advanced that even genuinely subversive notions simply dissolve into the official marketplace of ideas, or get converted into some kind of marketing effort. There’s so much pseudo-rebellion around that it’s hard to know real dissent when you see it.One thing people in the US have a hard time imagining, I guess, is what it’s like to have your world turned upside down the way it was in Eastern Europe in the late 80’s or in Iraq since 2003 (Katrina nudged some of us closer to this). Sure 9/11 was a shock to the system, but it’s nothing like the kind of complete psychological and spiritual overhaul that Eastern Europe went through, and that Iraq is going through now.The shift in worldview resulting from the demise of communism is illustrated by passages that frame the novel. At the beginning and the end we find Kingbitter standing at his window observing an encampment of homeless people. He speculates at the end of the novel about what this says about his changed relation to politics in post-communist Hungary, and consequently his changed spiritual/existential state. Under communism he used to see them as evidence of the corruption and failure of the governing regime, and as a problem that demanded amelioration. Now he’s, on the one hand, more detached. He aestheticizes them. Sees them as part of an ongoing human comedy. And also has the sneaking suspicion that, if circumstances were to alter slightly, he could find himself out there with them...

  • Farhan Khalid
    2019-05-11 00:34

    We imagine a man, and a name to go with him. Or conversely, let us imagine the name, and the man to go with itYou just sit there and tolerate it, the same way everything is tolerated in this countryEvery deception, every lie, every bullet in the brainsThe past as a random collectivity of fates tossed together onto a heap with a pitchforkMan, when reduced to nothing, or in other words a survivor, is not tragic but comic, because he has no fateHe avoided participation of any kind, never became mixed up in anythingDidn’t believe, didn’t revolt, and didn’t become disillusionedIn the world as it presented itself to me, effects did not always derive form causesI consider that the world as it presented itself to me had no logic whatsoeverI caught myself living parasitically off his wordsSomewhat secondhand people, feeding off the lives of those stronger than ourselvesIf you are a revolutionary, you shouldn’t have started a family Our impossible life is determined by chance, lust, and the whim of a moment, I thought to myselfMan is, both physically and morally, an utterly vulnerable beingWe are living in the age of disasterEach of us is a carrier of the disasterSo there is a need for a particular art of living for us to surviveDisaster man has no fate, no qualities, no characterFor him there can be no return to some center of the Self, a solid and irrefutable self-certainty In other words, he is lost. This being without Self is the disasterWithout time moving any further forwardThis is where I learned that to rebel is To Stay AliveTo continuing lifeStarting anew everydayLiving anew everydayDying anew everydaySense of guilt is the only true bond between two peopleMan may live like a worm, but he writes like a godThe world is composed of disintegrating fragments, an incoherent chaos, sustained by writingI would like to remember that moment even more clearly, because it will never be repeated It's so odd how love passes The world suddenly turns gray around youIt becomes cold, comprehensible, sober and distantHe subjects the woman to various miseries in order to break and undermine her faith in the world(Writing) was his sole means of expressionA person's most true means of expression However, he was always saying, is his lifeWe talked about words once - words and neuroses, or word phobias, to be more precise You have to travel the road to the end, he was always saying. My road leads nowhereDon’t look where it is going to, but where it started fromAuschwitz is another plant, while we humankind, occupants of Planet Earth, have no key to decipher the name AuschwitzHe sought to decipher it nonetheless, staked his life on itHe did not seek it to decipher it philosophically, however, nor scientifically, nor even in his writingsHe chose a much more dangerous approachHe sought to apprehend Auschwitz in his own life, in his own daily life, in the way he livedBee was still seated at his desk, writing or reading, reading or writing, reading and writing - it's all the sameThrow it (manuscript) onto a fire so it burns, because via the flames it will reach where it has to reachSimply become bored of judging whether a book was good or badHe made his living from the decisions he made on such questions

  • Nelson Wattie
    2019-04-18 22:47

    Like many of the best Central European novelists, the Hungarian Imre Kertesz is sceptical of the human capacity to understand the workings of cause and effect. We are at loose in a cosmos we scarcely understand but try to behave as if we are at ease in it, and this makes hypocrites of us all. As the primary narrator of Liquidation says: ‘Anyone who has not lived in a world of undiscoverable reasons; who has never woken up with the very taste of that disgust in his mouth; who has never felt that contagion of general powerlessness spreading throughout his body and gaining mastery over him—that person will not understand what I am talking about.’This worldview is found, for example in Kafka and Musil—I trace it back to Schopenhauer—but it was not until the concentration camps with their arbitrary, unstable rules from which everyone’s actions derived, that it was impressed on even the least intellectual of those incarcerated there. Although it takes a while for the topic to be explicitly introduced, Auschwitz is implicitly behind everything in this novel. It is also imbued with the effects of totalitarian socialism, another force that makes living by rules obnoxious but necessary, if one plans to survive, and again the rules are subject to change at any moment.Not everyone plans to survive, at least in the body. A shadow is cast on all the characters by a charismatic person, sometimes called Bee and sometimes B., who has chosen suicide. But even he is driven by the need to survive, in his case by means of imaginative writing. As soon as his death is known, the narrator, a book editor, rushes to seize all manuscripts before the authorities can take them and annihilate B.’s memory. What follows is remarkable – but I don’t want to create any spoilers.Under all these pressures, which is of greater value: life lived or life recorded? According to Socrates, ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. A major theme of this novel is the nature of and need for the examination of life in creative writing. Too much lived life can interfere with the writer’s need to write: the narrator has been abandoned by his wife and has ‘lost my young son, my job, and my apartment’. Does he despair? Well, no: ‘Would it be odd of me to say that in the very midst of this collapse the feeling I had was more one of relief? All at once I crossed from marriage into truth.’ The conventional life and its satisfactions are, it would seem, incompatible with truth. Hence B.’s lifestyle: at a desk, facing a wall, writing, reading, meditating, and then committing suicide—all in the interests of truth. The narrator himself has a similar though more benign fate: he is arrested and held for ten days for exercising his right to free speech (the ‘universal’ right that does not exist in his totalitarian society), and this proves to be a kind of release: into a ‘new society’ for which he is now qualified, a society of eccentrics and bohemians where, paradoxically, addresses are secret, people unnamed and messages clandestine, but where truth is sought by all.The release is from a situation where the police decide what you can and cannot do and ‘where no explanation of any kind is satisfactory’. As an acquaintance points out to him, ‘You shouldn’t allow yourself to get into situations like that; you shouldn’t allow yourself to know who you are.’ Rest in peace, Socrates!

  • Jeruen
    2019-04-28 00:24

    An edited version of this article was first published as Book Review: Liquidation by Imre Kertész on you ever wondered what a metaphysical novel would be like, in just 120 pages? If so, then read Liquidation, because this is one.This novel is a story that revolves on a few characters that are inter-related. There's the writer B (Bee), who commits suicide. His close friends are shocked. And the novel actually focuses on how each of his friends deal with the loss. Kingsbitter goes on a mission to uncover the "lost novel" that he thinks great writers like B should leave before committing suicide. Other characers like Sarah and Judit slowly are revealed to be interesting figures that have sexual liaisons with the other folks in the novel.Given that the novel is just 120 pages long, not a lot of action happens in the narration. Instead, the book lets the reader's brain fill out the missing parts. Why for example is Kingsbitter so convinced there there is a missing final novel? Why of all people, does he pick Judit as the likely candidate to hold the allegedly missing final novel? Additionally, what is the motive behind Judit's choice to constantly supply B with morphine?There are plenty of unanswered questions, but this is actually a good thing. It engages the reader into the novel, treating the reader as one more participant in the drama that envelopes these characters.I must say I am impressed at the way this novel was written. There are several instances in which the perspective switched. One chapter would be written in the point of view of Kingsbitter, and another chapter would be written in the point of view of Judit. And in another neat trick that this book has, the book actually is a play within a book. The book opens by introducing Kingsbitter, who "discovers" a manuscript for a play. The play then is read, by Kingsbitter (and the reader) and narrates the dynamics between the characters. I haven't read much Hungarian literature. I have read Love by Péter Nádas before, but that was about it. I remember that book being very concise and short as well, an etude about love and its many forms. It seems that Hungarian writers have the ability to write short, yet to the point. Overall, I liked this book. It hasn't given me a great story to ruminate or tell my friends, and the characters aren't memorable, yet the novel is remarkable in that it tackles philosophical issues in the guise of a novel, and during the few hours I spent reading it, it made me step back and think for a moment about human complexity.I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.See my other book reviews here.

  • Brett Francis
    2019-05-11 01:46

    This book started off promising for me. It is impossible to say the language of this book is of a register I had been lacking in some of the recent fiction I had been reading. But what first presented itself as appealing, it soon lost its flavor for me. I wanted to like the book. I just moved to Hungary two weeks ago and was excited to partake in the country's celebrated author and only recipient of the Noble Prize for Literature. I found myself dissatisfied at many points as I read, however, and I wish I could give it a higher rating (I fluctuated between 2 or 3 stars).Overall, there was a forcefullness that became harder and harder to swallow. The lofty nature of the propositions offered to me, the continually digressing mixed with philosophizing became too chaotic. I am accustomed to non-linear story telling, but this time around it failed me. The jumps between settings and which character was speaking and sometimes speech dictated in quotations, sometimes as part of the prose--it was so sudden and subtle that I found myself more lost than I should have been. I don't believe it was the author's intention, so much, either.The fact that this is a translated work is readily apparent to me. At many points throughout the work, the syntax is I guess the only word for it. Additionally, there were some moments where the word choice just did not ring true. From what I have learned from Hungarian so far, it seems so far at odds with English structures that I am certain I am lacking a great deal of the beauty of the book in this translated form. When the book became more straightforward, I enjoyed it. It's also not to say there weren't some good lines among the philosophizing that made me think. Yet, in the end, I simply do not feel attached to the characters (Kingbitter was such a whiny prick, in my opinion) and the statements I believe the author was trying to make. It very much alienated me as it reinforced how I would never be able to understand Auschwitz from the perspective of someone who is connected to it through family or religious ties. I already understood that I would never be able to understand, even before I read this. The book just made me feel even further away. For this reason, I do not think I will read Fateless(ness), his other and most famous work, simply because it also centers around the encounters there and I fear I will have similar issues with this author's style.

  • Brian
    2019-05-17 19:24

    It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the language but once I did, off I went into a dark world of disillusionment and metaphysical musing. I found the structure of the book weak and Kertesz’s voice wavering; tedious might be a better description. Here are the opening lines:“Let us call our man, the hero of this story, Kingbitter. We imagine a man, and a name to go with him. Or conversely, let us imagine the name, and the man to go with it. Though this may all be avoided anyway since our man, the hero of this story really is called Kingbitter.”He then goes on to tell how Kingbitter’s father was called by that name, as well as his grandfather, and that same name is registered on his birth certificate. So the entire first page could have simply said: The hero of this story is a man called Kinbitterr. But I guess from the start Kertesz was laying the foundation of Kingbitter’s problem with the concept or state of reality.Kingbitter is and editor. A close friend of his, a writer and Auschwitz survivor, commits suicide. Among the papers his friend leaves behind is a play called Liquidation that eerily predicts the behaviour of his ex-wife, his mistress, and Kingbitter himself.I would have preferred Kertesz to stick with the initial structure of the book, that is, a play within a novel, but he went off in other directions that made the book difficult to cozy up to. But I guess that was his point. His story is not one that is comfortable, it’s not a cute bunny book, but a bleak and twisted tale of a society recently released from the grips of communism and searching for its identity.My favorite passage:“Masses of books, good and bad, of all sorts of genres are dormant within me. Sentences, words, paragraphs, and lines of poetry that, like restless subtenants, unexpectedly spring to life and wander solitarily about or at other times launch into a loud chattering that I am unable to quell. An occupational hazard.”Irme Kertesz was imprisoned in Auschwitz and later in Buchenwald. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002.I believe Fatelessness may have been his better work, but since I’ve yet to read it, I’m guessing. Can anyone confirm this?

  • Alan
    2019-05-13 17:35

    this book looks straight at the holocaust via the suicide of a writer, Bee, who was born in Auschwitz, and hence has the PoW number tattooed on his thigh at birth (the arm is too short). Somehow he survives and marries and writes but cannot live with the fact of Auschwitz, there is no way of accommodating such a revelation of man's character. The book is set in the aftermath of his suicide and how his publisher and writer friends are trying to piece together his written legacy, there's a play and fragments of writing but his agent/publisher is convinced there is a novel too. The book itself is fragmented, disjointed, passages from the play (which involve the same protagonists as the book) are cast alongside discussions of the effects of the holocaust and the impasse it presents. It's terrifying really, heart stopping but so dry and oddly humorous, a bit Beckett like. It leaves you sad and numbed. There is a heartfelt bit on the power of writing though: But I believe in writing - nothing else; just writing. Man may live like a worm, but he writes like a god. There was a time when that secret was known, but now it has been forgotten; the world is composed of disintegrating fragments, an incoherent dark chaos, sustained by writing alone. If you have a concept of the world, if you have not yet forgotten all that has happened, that you have a world at all, it is writing that has created that for you, and ceaselessly goes on creating it; Logos, the invisible spider's thread that holds our lives together.

  • Madhuri
    2019-04-22 17:40

    Characteristic of Kertesz, the work is based in Auschwitz, and though none of the events in the plot happen there, the whole story rings around that one horrific word/place/planet. We find a set of characters haunted by Auschwitz and leading a life that is a kind of death. The main character B., born in Auschwitz, carries on with his life as a self-inflicted torture, a punishment and also a rebellion against the perpetrator of the holocaust, and accepts evil as the core of the world. And his bitterness, if that's a word we can use to characterize his perception, seems perfectly justified when we imagine the holocaust horrors. Kertesz being a camp survivor himself, must know this feeling of hopelessness firsthand, at least in some bleak moments of reliving the tragedy.The narrative structure is slightly flawed - we meet a character Kingbitter, who is supposed to be that invisible, slightly hidden narrator that we meet in a Sebald or Bernhard, but this narrator refuses to be in the shadows, and even in a small book that already has a tough task ahead of it, he manages to dedicate many pages to himself, forcing himself in every aspect of B.'s life, including an affair with his wife and then his mistress. This intrusion, sometimes was annoying, at other times it explained Kingbitter's anxiousness to tell B.'s story, but if I had to take sides, I would say he should have stayed behind as the editor instead of trying to take the limelight.

  • Trevor
    2019-05-19 00:28

    With a title that connotes closing shops, selling assets, and cutting losses accompanied with abstract illustrations of people, none looking at each other, I was very interested. Add to that the fact that it is only a novella, something I could get through in one day, and it was a must-read. After reading it, I have to ask, why don't we, at least we in America, care much about those who win the Nobel Prize in Literature unless they're from here? This book was well worth the short time I put into reading it - in fact, it will be paying off for years to come. The book is set in Hungary in the 1990s. A decade or two earlier, “the hero of this story, Kingbitter” met B. or Bee, depending on the sentence. B.’s mother was four months pregnant when she was put into Auschwitz. Against the odds (“The blokova, possibly stirred by the thought of helping bring a child into the world in the death camp”), B. is born and survives, though he was immediately taken from his parents. Despite the miracle of B.’s birth, years later he commits suicide. That is where the book begins.But for what reasons did B. commit suicide? That is where the book goes.You can read my complete review on my blog, The Mookse and the Gripes.

  • Aly
    2019-05-03 17:27

    I read this book as part of my series of reading books by Nobel prize winning authors. I chose Liquidation because of the title's reference to the Nazi liquidation of Jewish towns and ghettos. Inevitably, I feel that this may be one of the most post-modern books I've ever read. It begins by describing a play which, through the amazing foresight of the already-deceased central character, is a series of events faithfully recorded before they occur. Although the playwright was himself a fascinating survivor of Auschwitz (actually, he is perhaps the only baby born in Auschwitz to survive, and bears his tattooed ID number on his leg instead of his wrist as a result) the book is set in post-Communist Hungary, as those who are still living explore what happens to those whose story has ended.In writing this, I realize how much I need to go back and read this book again. It was not a laborious read, but I wasn't transported by it at the time. I could tell it was implying something, but I couldn't quite reach at what. It ought to have hit me at the time that the deceased friend who haunts the book served more as a metaphor than as a character, but sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees when the pages are in front of you.

  • Pete Young
    2019-05-16 23:35

    Communism has fallen in 1990s Hungary, the publishing house of the literary editor Kingbitter is about to fold, and his friend, B., the only author he admired, has just comitted suicide. B. was an extraordinarily perceptive writer, having written a play, Liquidation, which predicted precisely how his coterie of friends and lovers would react after his death: Kingbitter reads about himself doing exactly what he has recently done. This clever beginning to the novel hints at layers of metaphysical introspection, a clever interweaving of meanings and motives, but this ‘Matryoshka doll’ technique of hiding stories within stories only goes so deep here. Further in, and always central to Kertész’s concerns, is the nature of evil and its coexistence with good, the impossibility of truly escaping the mental confines of Auschwitz even after that too has come and gone, and the question of how does one continue to live on after or whether there’s greater dignity in ending it all before the survival instinct disappears forever. A book that’s full of things coming to an end with no new beginnings, short novels don’t come much weightier than this.