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by László Krasznahorkai

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From the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize

At long last, twenty-five years after the Hungarian genius László Krasznahorkai burst onto the scene with his first novel, Satantango dances into English in a beautiful translation by George Szirtes.

Already famous as the inspiration for the filmmaker Béla


From the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize

At long last, twenty-five years after the Hungarian genius László Krasznahorkai burst onto the scene with his first novel, Satantango dances into English in a beautiful translation by George Szirtes.

Already famous as the inspiration for the filmmaker Béla Tarr’s six-hour masterpiece, Satantango is proof, as the spellbinding, bleak, and hauntingly beautiful book has it, that “the devil has all the good times.”

The story of Satantango, spread over a couple of days of endless rain, focuses on the dozen remaining inhabitants of an unnamed isolated hamlet: failures stuck in the middle of nowhere. Schemes, crimes, infidelities, hopes of escape, and above all trust and its constant betrayal are Krasznahorkai’s meat. “At the center of Satantango,” George Szirtes has said, “is the eponymous drunken dance, referred to here sometimes as a tango and sometimes as a csardas. It takes place at the local inn where everyone is drunk. . . . Their world is rough and ready, lost somewhere between the comic and tragic, in one small insignificant corner of the cosmos. Theirs is the dance of death.”

“You know,” Mrs. Schmidt, a pivotal character, tipsily confides, “dance is my one weakness.”

Editorial Reviews

Jacob Silverman - New York Times Book Review
“Like something far down the periodic table of elements, Krasznahorkai’s sentences are strange, elusive, frighteningly radioactive. They seek to replicate the entropic whirl of consciousness itself and, in the case of Eszter, to stop its “onward rush” entirely.”
Adam Thirwell - The New York Review of Books
“The excitement of Krasznahorkai's writing is that he has come up with his own original forms - and one of the most haunting is his first, Satantango. There is nothing else like it in contemporary literature.”
Adam Levy - The Millions
“He is obsessed as much with the extremes of language as he is with the extremes of thought, with the very limits of people and systems in a world gone mad — and it is hard not to be compelled by the haunting clarity of his vision.”
The L Magazine
“What preventsSatantangofrom devolving into a mere exercise in clever derivation, however, is Krasznahorkai’s fervent mission to thoroughly mine the mysteriousness, and potential miraculousness, of a seemingly corrupt physical reality. His wry, snake-like sentences produce—or unspool—layer upon layer of psychological insight, metaphysical revelation, and macroscopic historical perspective.”
Dublin Review of Books
“Krasznahorkai produces novels that are riveting in their sinewy momentum and deeply engaging in the utter humanity of their vision.”
Full Stop Magazine
“His prose is formed like a fractal: self-similar patterns where every sentence exceeds its topological dimensions to becomea microcosm of the entire work. We definitely hear Beckett in him.”
“Think of Satantango, then, as an Eastern European blues album that looks to affirm the coarse texture of life rather than auto-tune it into something smoother or more amendable to wish fulfillment.”
Words Without Borders
“All this literary material binds us to the writer as accomplices in his vision. We are somehow altered by having seen the characters and their world along with him, while we read and he writes.”
The Coffin Factory
“A writer without comparison, László Krasznahorkai plunges into the subconscious where this moral battle takes place, and projects it into a mythical, mysterious, and irresistible work of post-modern fiction, a novel certain to hold a high rank in the canon of Eastern European literature.”
The Independent
“Krasznahorkai is a poet of dilapidation, of everything that exists on the point of not-existence.”
The Daily Beast
“László Krasznahorkai’s novel Satantango is an argument for the vitality of translation. It is bold, dense, difficult, and utterly unforgettable.”
New Statesman
“Utterly absorbing–it dramatises with great invention the parching of the human imagination and wrings an almost holy grandeur from a tale of provincial petulance.”
Los Angeles Review of Books
“His textual ambiguities make any concrete reading of Satantango nearly impossible, and we are put in the same befuddled, liminal state of mind as the fictional residents themselves: missing the thing by waiting for it.”
Imre Kertesz
“I love Krasznahorkai’s books. His long, meandering sentences enchant me, and even if his universe appears gloomy, we always experience that transcendence which to Nietzsche represented metaphysical consolation.”
Susan Sontag
“Krasznahorkai is the contemporary Hungarian master of the apocalypse who inspires comparisons with Gogol and Melville.”
W. G. Sebald
“The universality of his vision rivals that of Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing.”
The New York Times Book Review
“He offers us stories that are relentlessly generative and defiantly irresolvable. They are haunting, pleasantly weird, and, ultimately, bigger than the worlds they inhabit.”
The Guardian
“Satantango is a monster of a novel: compact, cleverly constructed, often exhilarating, and possessed of a distinctive, compelling vision - but a monster nonetheless...The grandeur is clearly palpable.”
Colm Tóibín
“Krasznahorkai is alone among European novelists now in his intensity and originality. One of the most mysterious artists now at work.”
James Wood - The New Yorker
“Profoundly unsettling.”
James Hopkin - The Independent
“His inexhaustible yet claustrophobic prose, with its long, tight, weaving sentences, each like a tantalising tightrope between banality and apocalypse, places the author in a European tradition of Beckett, Bernhard, and Kafka.”

Product Details

New Directions Publishing Corporation
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Meet the Author

László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary in 1954. He has won numerous international literary awards and his works have been translated into many languages.
George Szirtes is a Hungarian-born British poet and translator who has translated works by Sándor Csoóri, Dezsö Kosztolányi, and László Krasznahorkai.

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Satantango 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NovelsAndDocumentaries More than 1 year ago
It's criminal that it took so long for Krasznahorkai's debut to be translated into English - though in consolation Szirtes's translation is excellent. Satantango is an agonizingly bleak character study, and though it's best known as the source of Bela Tarr's six-hour film the novel hasn't received the attention it's due. I can't recommend this novel enough. Just brace yourself for a lot of mud and spiderwebs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago