The World Goes On Lás­zló Krasz­na­horkai

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The Observer - The New Review - - BOOKS - CKH

When the cel­e­brated Hun­gar­ian au­thor Lás­zló Krasz­na­horkai and his trans­la­tor, Ge­orge Szirtes, won the Man Booker in­ter­na­tional prize in 2015, the judges were im­pressed by his “ex­tra­or­di­nary sen­tences of in­cred­i­ble length”. Here, Krasz­na­horkai’s fa­mous sen­tences, of­ten sev­eral pages long, again have huge im­pact, as a fear­ful God-like nar­ra­tor tells a se­ries of enig­matic sto­ries marked by a sense of fu­til­ity and pes­simism. In one, a boy faced with a whale con­fined in a metal box is “ini­ti­ated… into a state of melan­choly”; in an­other, a man con­fronts the abyss of his mind while wan­der­ing drunk in Shang­hai; and, in the ti­tle story, Krasz­na­horkai con­sid­ers how the events of 9/11 de­stroyed the “mean­ing, power, spa­cious­ness, and pre­ci­sion” of lan­guage. This col­lec­tion – a mas­ter­piece of in­ven­tion – is hugely un­set­tling and af­fect­ing; to meet Krasz­na­horkai’s char­ac­ters, to read his breath­less, twist­ing sen­tences, is to feel al­tered.

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