John Murray

Lost Innocence



The Harvill Press 272pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész bears close comparison to another Holocaust novelist, the Czech Arnošt Lustig. Like Lustig, he endured a number of concentration camps in his mid teens (they both went through Buchenwald and Auschwitz), and both have tried to convey the horror of their experiences through the eyes of their naive heroes. That said, they are very different writers. Put simply, Lustig is strongest at conveying the terrible pathos of those missing years, while Kertész excels at the analysis of a Holocaust victim’s state of mind both during and after the ordeal. The Hungarian writer is an expert at understatement and at shocking us with the candour of his observations. Here is his fourteen-year-old narrator Gyuri describing being herded into some brickyard stables just prior to his deportation to Auschwitz:

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Stuck for a gift idea for Father's Day? Subscribe to Literary Review and get a FREE copy of 'An Impeccable Spy' –… ,
    • 'Gone. All gone. The ease, the pleasure, the effortless eloquence' From May 1995, Margaret Forster's withering rev… ,
    • RT : SO excited to tell you about this event! 😆 The amazing digital colourist, will be joining w… ,
    • 'Peters was unashamed and evidently unshamable, an impostor who wholly inhabited his fabrications and who indignant… ,
    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,