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.”
The winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature and the 2015 Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement, László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary. George Szirtes (b. 1948) is an award-winning poet and translator who settled in England after his family fled the Hungarian Uprising of 1956.
Satantango 4 out of 5based on
jlbattis on LibraryThing
More than 1 year ago
Much like the seven-and-a-half-hour Béla Tarr film it spawned, Satantango requires patience. Underlying this morass of atrophying humanity is a structure of subtle movements, the structure of the tango, a structure only apparent at a far remove. It is a structure I only recognized somewhere in the seventh hour of the film and which, while immersed in the novel, seems ever elusive, although there are indications. Even if you don't have the patience for the gran mal, there are moments of Handkean brilliance in the minutiae.
More than 1 year ago
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.
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