Psalm 44 is the last major work of fiction by Danilo Kiš to be translated into English, and his only novel dealing explicitly with Auschwitz (where his own
father died). Written when he was only twenty-five, before embarking on the
masterpieces that would make him an integral figure in twentieth-century letters, Psalm 44 shows Kiš at his most lyrical and unguarded, demonstrating that even in “the place of dragons . . . covered with the shadow of death,” there can still be poetry. Featuring characters based on actual inmates and warders—including the abominable Dr. Mengele—Psalm 44 is a baring of many of the themes, patterns, and preoccupations Kiš would return to in future, albeit never with the same starkness or immediacy.