Literary roundup: Imre Kertész’s retirement, Hermann Ungar makes Top 10 and Tolstoy’s head

In the wake of Phillip Roth’s retirement announcement another prestigious Jewish writer getting up there age-wise, has decided to lay down his pen. Hungarian writer Imre Kertész has said he’s finished writing in an article in ActuaLitté.

Unlike Roth, Kertész pins his decision down to subject matter, and having exhausted the theme of the Holocaust he says he doesn’t want to look for something else to write about at this point. He has also announced that he is donating around 35,000 pages of documents to the Academy of Arts in Berlin. He says that though Hungary expressed interest in the material he feels more comfortable having it kept in Berlin, both because he lives in Germany and because he feels better understood there.

The article does note the irony involved in the preservation of the papers of a Hungarian Jew’s escape from Auschwitz by a German institution. An exhibition of the documents at the Academy opened on November 15 with Kertész in attendance (German text and photos).

Prague German makes top 10 best novel for 2012

I’ve been writing about Prague German Writers for German Literature Month (and before) so it’s nice to see the Czech-born Hermann Ungar make one of the Top Ten Best of lists for 2012 (and yes, it’s Best of list time of year again). El Confidencial’s Top 10 novels of the year includes the Spanish translation of Ungar’s The Maimed, published in English in 2002.

Tolstoy’s head

Just as Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina will hit screens all over the world its original creator is making a more modest appearance in Washington D.C.. A monument to Leo Tolstoy has been erected on the campus of American University. The stern-looking head looks like it could float off its pedestal (after all, it’s balancing on its beard!) and go lecture the students on non-violent protest or against spending their time on frivolous pursuits such as going to see the latest Keira Knightley movie.

The Russian ambassador said he was “glad that students walking by will have a chance to become acquainted with him.” This, reportedly, has already happened, after two students took LSD, communed with the head and have since adopted white peasant smocks and a lifestyle shorn of falsity and ambition (if it hasn’t happened yet, it should have).

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One Comment on “Literary roundup: Imre Kertész’s retirement, Hermann Ungar makes Top 10 and Tolstoy’s head”

  1. 20/11/2012 at 12:34 pm #

    The ending of Fatelessness has stayed with me. It is a most awful betrayal. And while I found Liquidation bewildering, Kaddish is beautiful and Detective outshines other post-modern anti-detective stories by Ourednik and Auster, for example. Thank you for the great novels, Kertesz.

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