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A Sentence from Imre Kertész’s Kaddish for an Unborn Child

“In short, I suddenly caught myself writing because I had to write, even though I did not know why I had to, the fact is I noticed that I was working incessantly, one might say with an insane diligence, always working, driven not solely by the need to make ends meet, because even if I did not work I would still exist, and if I were existing then I don’t know what that would drive me to do, and it is better that I don’t know, even if my bones, my guts, have an inkling, to be sure, for the reason why I work incessantly is that while I man working I am, and if I did not work, who knows if I would be, therefore I have to take it seriously, because the most deadly serious associations subsist between my continued subsistence and my work, that much is blatantly obvious and not in the least normal, even if there happen to be others, even a fair number of them, who likewise write because they have to write, but in my case there was no getting away from the fact that I had to, I don’t know why, but it seems this was the only solution open to me, even if it solves nothing, on the other hand at least it does not leave me in a position of—how shall I put it?—unsolvedness that would compel me to regard it as unsolved even in its unsolvedness and consequently torment me not only by virtue of unsolvedness but also by the shortcoming of this unsolvedness and dissatisfaction over that.”

  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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