It is only now, with the publication of Fiasco (Melville House, $18.95), that we have the book that came in between, the second volume in the trilogy. If Fatelessness was written with a bright mock-naivety that led to comparisons with Candide, and Kaddish employed the harsh comic rant of Thomas Bernhard, then the presiding ghosts of Fiasco are clearly Beckett and Kafka, those 20th-century masters of confusion and despair.
In fact, they divide the novel between them quite neatly. The first third of Fiasco presents us with a middle-aged writer who is clearly Kertész, though he is referred to, with a combination of intimacy and disdain, only as “the old boy.” Like Kertész, the old boy is a writer and translator whose life work was an autobiographical novel about the Holocaust, which took him a decade to write and which was initially turned down by publishers. Now he is searching for a subject for another book, not because he really wants to write one, but because he has become a professional writer, more or less by accident . . .
It does sound like my sort of thing. Maybe I’ll find some time for the copy Melville House sent me . . .