Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize is...

Who is this man and why has he won this most prestigious of prizes? Laszlo Krasznahorkai was born in 1954 in in GyulaHungary, 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. The Melancholy of ResistanceSatantango and Seiobo There Below are magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence.

Susan Sontag
“The contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville”
 WG Sebald
“The universality of Krasznahorkai’s vision rivals that of Gogol’s Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing”

So it is  praise all round and deservedly so, I have a short list of writers who I pigeonhole into the category "Writers whose shopping lists I'd read" by this mean that I believe their writing is so absorbing, so fantastic that their mundane everyday notes, lists etc. would be as interesting a read as other writers whole oeuvre. This isn't a long list but features writers of the calibre of Italo Calvino, Georges Perec, and Laszlo  fits into this list comfortably. Congratulations to Laszlo Krasznahorkai and to the translators 

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.

“El último Lobo” Fiction

László Krasznahorkai will be interviewed by Marina Warner at the Hay Festival on Sunday 24 May at 7pm.


Brian Joseph said...

Thanks for this post. I was curious about Laszlo Krasznahorkai and now I am even more curious and eager to read him.

The idea "Shopping List Writers" is neat and impressive.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Brian, he has rapidly climb my list of favourite writers, one of those you want to read everything by. If you fancy a taster here his something from Words without Borders

Bellezza said...

I would place your opinion higher than any silly judge's, haven't "met" one yet that I trust, and if you say he tears your heart while putting a smile on your face, I believe it. I remember when Satantango was listed for the IFFP, the year before I began reading them all. I still haven't read this author, but after your post, I will.