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October 10, 2002: Hungarian novelist wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Outside his native Hungary, his work has found the most resonance in Germany, France and Scandinavia, but is little-read in the English-speaking world

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2002 Hungarian novelist Imre Kertesz, whose writing is dominated by his experiences in Auschwitz as a teenager, won the 2002 Nobel Literature Prize. Outside his native Hungary, his work has found the most resonance in Germany, France and Scandinavia, but is little-read in the English-speaking world. The 72-year-old Kertesz has always refused to see Auschwitz as an exceptional occurrence, outside the normal history of western Europe, calling it instead “the ultimate truth about human degradation in modern existence.” Kertesz’ work centres on the decisive event in his life, a period spent in Auschwitz to which he was taken in 1944 as a teenage boy during the Nazi persecution of Hungarians. The Swedish Academy said his work described “the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history.” Kertesz himself has said: “When I am thinking about a new novel, I always think of Auschwitz.”

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