In contrast to Joshua Cohen’s cranky review in Forward, the review of Kertesz’s Pathseeker in the New York Sun (which, at risk of beating a dead horse, has become the premiere daily newspaper for thoughtful reviews of international lit) is much more positive.
Slender though it is, The Pathseeker is a necessary addition to Mr. Kertész’s work in English, and should occasion thanks to both the novelist and his translator, Tim Wilkinson, who has rendered Mr. Kertész’s (famously difficult) Hungarian into a flowing, able English — as well as to Melville House’s fascinating “The Contemporary Art of the Novella” series, which rubric The Pathseeker falls under.
(I’m planning a long post on this, but the Melville House “Contemporary Art of the Novella” series is not just impressive, but fucking amazing. Much more to come on this . . .)
In terms of the book itself, this may not be the most “selling” of paragraphs, but it totally caught my interest:
Mr. Kertész’s prose, recursive and long-breathed, keeps pace with the circular, frustrated action of the plot. Anonymity, elliptical speech, a fluid, almost euphuistic beauty, and an obdurate refusal on Mr. Kertész’s part to concede to even the most usual desires of the reader: The Pathseeker might seem, in a summary treatment, like the colorless, belabored works produced by writers whose sole aim is to toy with narrative convention. But Mr. Kertész places its maddening, permanent, and eerie periphrasis in the highest possible service: moral witness. And precisely because Mr. Kertesz refuses to speak with full openness about the scenery, its history, and his protagonist’s deep and damaging relation to both, The Pathseeker avoids even the slightest tendency toward ethical didacticism, a great risk when writing about the Holocaust.