Who is this man and why has he won this most prestigious of prizes? Laszlo Krasznahorkai was born in 1954 in in Gyula, Hungary, the son of György Krasznahorkai, a lawyer,& Júlia Pálinkás, a social security administrator. After finishing his secondary education in 1972, where he specialised in Latin. Between 1973 - 76 he studied law at the József Attila University (JATE) (now the University of Szeged) and from 1976 to 1978 at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) (formerly the University of Budapest). Once he had finished his law studies, he went on to complete a degree in in Hungarian Language & Literature from Eötvös Loránd University, receiving his degree in 1983. Since then he has supported himself an independent writer, with his first publication Satantango, was released to immediate success and he was immediately thrust into the forefront of Hungarian literary life.
So far, so dry and doesn't answer the question of why he has won this prize. I read Satantango in March 2013, as part of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and although I read several books after completing Satantango, it was that book that haunted me, made me want to seek out other books by him, I purchased War & War, which after I'd finished reading I stated that this "book belongs in the category of "books that broke my heart & yet made me smile". Books that make me open my chest & say take this, do what you will & somehow manage this whilst placing a bloody great baboon-like grin on my face." I also purchased as soon as it was published in the UK "Seiobo There Below" which at this moment sits on my shelf tempting me away from my attempt at a reading plan. I think that Laszlo Krasznahorkai, is one of the greatest living authors around today, but let us see what more professional people have to say about him...
The judging panel for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize was chaired by celebrated writer and academic
Marina Warner, who said that..
‘Laszlo Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range who captures the texture of present day existence in scenes that are terrifying, strange, appallingly comic, and often shatteringly beautiful. , and are magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence.
“The contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville”
“The universality of Krasznahorkai’s vision rivals that of Gogol’s Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing”
George Szirtes is a Hungarian-born poet who came to the UK as a refugee. He has won a number of prizes for his poetry, including the T S Eliot Prize. He has also translated Sándor Márai amongst others.
Ottilie Mulzet is a Hungarian translator of poetry and prose, as well as a literary critic. She has worked as the English-language editor of the internet journal of the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Prague, and her translations appear regularly at Hungarian Literature Online.
László Krasznahorkai will be interviewed by Marina Warner at the Hay Festival on Sunday 24 May at 7pm.