Hungarian writer. A Holocaust survivor, he explores 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 a Child not Born (1990). He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature.
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.
Other works of fiction include A nyomkeres/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). 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).