This book is about the termination (or liquidation) of various things. About the time of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, B., also called Bee, is a well-known writer who was born in and survived the Nazis’ Auschwitz concentration camp in occupied Poland during World War II. He also lived through the Communist aftermath of the Holocaust. Now, however, he has committed suicide with a morphine overdose. The letter “B” and four numerals tattooed on his thigh, instead of his tiny arm when he was a baby, testifies to his origins.

Fellow workers come to his friend Kingbitter’s office to discuss B.’s literary affairs. Among the papers that Kingbitter has salvaged from Communist authorities is the manuscript of a play entitled Liquidation. As he reads the script to his colleagues at the office, Kingbitter is amazed at the prescient way in which B. foretells the personal and political crises that Kingbitter and B.’s other close friends now face. These include the liquidation of the bankrupt, state-owned publishing house—a remnant of the Communist era—where they work, which has been considering the publication of B.’s literary efforts. Because of these events and B.’s liquidation of his life, as well as the liquidation of his full-length manuscript (allegedly at B.’s orders to his girlfriend), and, more generally because of the liquidation of the art of literature in favor of dilettantism and ideological spin during Communism, the...

(The entire section is 603 words.)


Ehrenreich, Ben. “B.-ing There.” Review of Liquidation, by Imre Kertész. The Village Voice, December 22-28, 2004, p. C74.

Franklin, Ruth. “The Inhuman Condition.” Review of Liquidation, by Imre Kertész. The New York Times Book Review, December 19, 2004, p. 7.

Molnár, Sára. “Nobel in Literature 2002: Imre Kertész’s Aesthetics of the Holocaust.” CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 15, no. 1 (March, 2003).

Riding, Alan. “The Holocaust, from a Teenage View.” The New York Times, January 3, 2006, p. E1.

Riding, Alan. “Nobel for Hungarian Writer Who Survived Death Camps.” The New York Times, October 11, 2002, p. A1.

Riding, Alan. “Nobel Hero Insists Hungary Face Its Past.” The New York Times, December 4, 2002, p. E1.

Rosenbaum, Thane. “The Survivor Who Survived.” The New York Times, October 12, 2002, p. A21.