Fourteen-year-old Gyuri's father has been called up for labour service. Arriving at the family timber store he witnesses with nonchalance and boredom his father sign over the business to the firm's book-keeper. Two months later he finds himself assigned to a "permanent workplace" but within a fortnight he is unexpectedly pulled off a bus on his way to work and detained without explanation. This is the start of his journey to and subsequent imprisonment in Auschwitz.
On his arrival Gyuri finds that he is unable to identify with other Jews, and in turn is rejected by them. An outsider among his own people, his estrangement makes him a preternaturally acute observer. Fatelessness' power lies in its refusal to mitigate the unfathomable alienness of the Holocaust and in the strength, and strangeness, of its narrative voice.