Poignant is a word often used of Holocaust literature and yet it fails to capture exactly the measure of this classy autobiography. The author, a journalist and critic before the war, never abandons his masterful journalistic restraint while buzzing between the various situations in which he finds himself in the aftermath of capture, yet we feel his seething anger oozing through the ironic description, an anger which dissipates into resignation. Perhaps feisty would be more appropriate.
If Holocaust literature is concerned with the motivation of the German authorities, Zsolt's tome is more concerned with the reasons why the ordinary peasantry, like his Hungarian gendarme companion, consents to participate in the outrages, and the equally enigmatic question of why the Jews failed to resist or escape when they had the opportunity. Rightly, it is a book of questions and pastiches, rather than easy answers, but when the latter is proffered it is generally in confirmation of the reader's own suspicions.
The translator's prose style is impeccable, lucid and becoming, and the words and pages seemed to fly past at twice my standard reading pace.
In short, splash out your week's wages if necessary, but you won't be disappointed.