Laszlo Krasznahorkai wins Man Booker International Prize

Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai displays his Man Booker International Prize in London on May 19.

(Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images)

Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai was awarded the Man Booker International Prize on Tuesday night in London. The prize, awarded every other year, comes with an award of more than $90,000.

Krasznahorkai, who is not yet well known in the U.S., is extremely well regarded in Germany and has been widely published in translation in Europe. His major books have been published in the U.S. by New Directions; his novels “Seibo There Below” and “Satantango” are winners of the Best Translated Book Award, a prize for works published in translation in the U.S. that is presented by Open Letter and Three Percent.

“László 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,” Marina Warner, chair of the award judges, said in a statement.

“‘The Melancholy of Resistance,’ ‘Satantango’ and ‘Seiobo There Below’ are magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence. Krasznahorkai, who writes in Hungarian, has been superbly served by his translators, George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet,” Warner said.


Speaking to the Guardian, Warner compared Krasznahorkai to Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett. “I feel we’ve encountered here someone of that order,” she said. “That’s a trick that the best writers pull off; they give you the thrill of the strange ... then after a while they imaginatively retune you. So now we say, ‘It’s just like being in a Kafka story’; I believe that soon we will say it’s like being in a Krasznahorkai story.”

Krasznahorkai was born in Hungary in 1954 and currently resides there, although he has also lived in the U.S. and in Germany. He was in London on Tuesday to accept his award.

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