The Illiterate

Agota Kristof


We send all orders via Royal Mail: within the UK, choose from 1st Class, 2nd Class or Special Delivery; for the rest of the world, International Standard or International Tracked. Delivery and packaging charges are calculated automatically at the checkout.

To collect orders in person from the Bookshop, choose Click and Collect at the checkout.

CB editions
1 June 2022
ISBN: 9781909585485
54 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Nina Bogin
Introduction by Gabriel Josipovici

‘One of the last books she wrote, slim and clean, but containing the accumulations of a lifetime.’
     – John Self, Independent on Sunday

Narrated in a series of brief vignettes, The Illiterate is Kristóf ’s memoir of her childhood, her escape from Hungary in 1956 with her husband and small child, her early years as a refugee working in factories in Switzerland, and the writing of her first novel, The Notebook.

‘Her descriptions – of those with whom she escaped and whose sense of isolation eventually leads them back to Hungary even at the cost of their lives, as well as those whose sense of despair brings them to suicide – offer an uncomfortable insight into the extreme vulnerability of those obliged to seek asylum abroad.’
     – Eimear McBride, Times Literary Supplement

‘This story of exile and loss, of how, for the refugee, the country in which she eventually settles, however kind and well-meaning its inhabitants, will always be a poor and inadequate substitute for the country of one’s birth, its language always an alien thing, however proficient she becomes in it – this is the story of so many people today that it is perhaps the story of our time, and Ágota Kristóf should perhaps be seen as our transnational bard.’
     – Gabriel Josipovici