In 1977, the long-unknown, just-published Hungarian novelist Imre Kertész released a slim double volume, containing the novellas “Detective Story” and “The Pathseeker,” a translation of which has just been published in its own volume (Melville House, 126 pages, $13). Mr. Kertész would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002, in large part for his trilogy of “Fatelessness,” “The Failure,” and “Kaddish for a Child Unborn.” For an artist by his own admission incapable of thinking or writing about anything except Auschwitz, these two early works seem anomalous. “Detective Story” recounts insidious political brutality in an unnamed Latin American country, while “The Pathseeker” tells of a frustrated journey toward a hidden goal in an anonymous landscape (albeit one recognizable as somewhere in Central Europe). 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.

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