Hungarian writer. A Holocaust survivor, he explored the capacity of the human spirit to endure repressive and brutal societies. His novels, largely autobiographical, include Sorstalanság/Fateless (1975), A kudarc/Fiasco (1988), and Kaddis a meg nem születetett gyermekért/Kaddish for an Unborn Child (1990). He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Other works of fiction include A nyomkeresö/The Pathfinder (1977), Az angol lobogó/The English Flag (1991), Gályanapló/Galley Diary (1992), and Valaki más: a változás krónikája/I Another: Chronicle of a Metamorphosis (1997), and Felszámolás/Liquidation (2003). Non-fiction collections of lectures and essays include A holocaust mint kultúra/The Holocaust as Culture (1993), A gondolatnyi csend amíg a kivégzoosztag újratölt/Moments of Silence While the Execution Squad Reloads (1998), and A számuzött nyelv/The Exiled Language (2001).
Born in Budapest, Kertész was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in 1944 and from there to the Buchenwald concentration camp in eastern Germany, from where he was liberated in 1945. His work was also influenced by his experience of living under a repressive communist regime in Hungary. He worked for the Hungarian newspaper Világosság (1948–51). Following two years of military service he worked as a translator of German literature into Hungarian. Sorstalansá/Fateless, his first novel, was based on his experiences at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He was the first Hungarian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.