Krasznahorkai’s latest begins in a void, out of which speaks a voice who wants to escape the world, where everything “is intolerable, unbearable, cold, sad, bleak, and deathly.” From there, the speaker embarks on a series of monologues in which he circles the globe, tries to outrun it, wants to forget it, then delivers three lectures on melancholy, revolt, and possession. These exercises concluded, a set of enigmatic short stories unfold. In “Nine Dragon Crossing,” a man obsessed with waterfalls becomes lost in contemplation of the winding streets of Shanghai. In “One Time on the 381,” a Portuguese miner stumbles upon a buried palace. The iconoclastic filmmaker of “György Fehér’s Henrik Mólnar” recalls Krasznahorkai’s own collaborations with director Bela Tarr. The ecstatic “A Drop of Water” concerns an encounter with a Buddha on the banks of the Ganges. Other stories take readers to a baroque and sensual Venice or resume the theme of leaving the world through the story of Russian cosmonaut Gagarin. In the end, the storyteller bids farewell and departs into eternity, leaving readers to puzzle over the parables, dialogues, and tales. This book breaks all conventions and tests the very limits of language, resulting in a transcendent, astounding experience. (Nov.)
"Russian cosmonauts, a waterfall-obsessed interpreter in Shanghai teetering on the edge of sanity, and a Portuguese child laborer who escapes his toils by wandering into an alternate reality ...
The World Goes On [is] a philosophically-charged new collection of stories about characters that are being pushed (figuratively or literally) to the edges of the world."
"Our current condition of displacement, says László Krasznahorkai in
The World Goes On (New Directions), cannot be told; only with great difficulty can language be budged out of endless spirallings of frustration. But then the collection goes on to offer stories of journeys that, whether undertaken or thwarted, arrive at transcendence. At the end there is only one way to go, in what has to be the most powerful page written so far this century."
Times Literary Supplement
"The Hungarian master of the apocalypse."
"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."
"The universality of Krasznahorkai’s vision rivals that of Gogol’s Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing."
"A masterpiece of invention"
The World Goes On review – a masterpiece of fear and futility - The Guardian - Claire Kohda Hazelton
"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."
"Sly and elegant"
"Krasznahorkai is the kind of writer who at least once on every page finds a perfect way of expressing something one has always sensed but never known, let alone been able to describe."
"A treasure trove of 21 idiosyncratic stories. Endlessly intriguing."
"Thought-provoking and meditative...From Russian cosmonauts to despairing bishops to beleaguered bankers, the threads of forsaking and being forsaken weave like a nervous system through dense, philosophical prose."
8 New Books You Need to Read in Novemeber - Harper's Bazaar - Lauren Hubbard
"One of the most mysterious artists now at work."
"A work that shows, undiminished, the complexity of existence..."
The New Yorker - Briefly Noted
"The stories in The World Goes On are the reading equivalent of climbing a volcano instead of sitting by the beach on your honeymoon. But the rewards — the sudden, knife-like insights so cerebral they seem the work of an alien intelligence — are worth the effort."
The Star Tribune - Adam Morgan
"A vision of painstaking beauty."
"Laszlo Krasznahorkai does many fascinating things with his prose, and one of the most striking is [this]: Starting a sentence hopefully, trying to say this or that, and then traveling inexorably, one clause after another, to the bleak and totalizing conclusion that all is lost, nothing is real, the world is intolerable. Like Beckett, it’s much funnier than you’d think."
NYT Magazine - Nitsuh Abebe
"Krasznahorkai constantly pushes beyond the expected, escalating everything to the brink of deliriousness."
"Krasznahorkai brings elements of Gogol, Bulgakov, Beckett and Bernhard to inimitable, always sympathetic fictions that provoke, entertain and often move us. Over twenty-one stories in
The World Goes On...Krasznahorkai's epic sentences show how, in reality, human thought and speech never fully stop, they merely pause. Deeply resonant."
"Krasznahorkai's fiction is apocalyptic in the original sense: concerned with the time when ordinary, blinkered perception gives way to revelation, when the veil is rent and we see things in their true and terrifying form. The World Goes On, a collection of 20 short stories plus a coda, serves as a wonderful primer to the 'invisible gigasystem' that is the Krasznahorkai universe."
Pulling back the curtain and finding nothing - The Boston Globe - Anthony Domestico
"Krasznahorkai offers us stories that are relentlessly generative and defiantly irresolvable - haunting, pleasantly weird, and ultimately bigger than the worlds they inhabit."
The New York Times - Jacob Silverman
"His work tends to get passed around like rare currency. One of the most profoundly unsettling experiences I have had as a reader."
The New Yorker - James Wood
The World Goes On doesn’t comfort you, but it does reward readerly cathexis with big, gorgeous gestures."
The world goes on indeed, and it's not pretty: so Hungarian novelist Krasznahorkai (The Last Wolf and Herman, 2016, etc.) instructs in this existentialism-tinged set of linked stories.It could just be the Rivotril talking, but when Krasznahorkai's narrator gets going on the subject of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, it quickly turns into a conspiracy theory full of ominous warnings about shadowy doctors, vodka, and the KGB: "Gagarin had to disappear for good, and of course, the way in which he died—that one of the nations, indeed one of the world's greatest heroes would perish due to such a simple test flight—was inconceivable, I had to understand this.…" The Gagarin story opens on an urgent note of leave-taking: "I don't want to die," Krasznahorkai writes, "just to leave the Earth," which subtly echoes the opening words of the collection itself: "I have to leave this place, because this is not the place where anyone can be, and where it would be worthwhile to remain…." That echo sounds at many points throughout the book, a whirlwind of sentences that run on for 10 pages and more at a time and that evoke a world-weary pessimism over human beings and their strange ways. Renouncing the very promise of salvation, a bishop declares that "no one shall attain heavenly Jerusalem," adding, "and the distance which leads to Your Son is unutterable," while on a more terrestrial plane, a banker grumbles over audits and paper trails and fearful CEOs. The spirit of James Joyce hovers over Krasznahorkai's pages, and Nietzsche is never far away, either; indeed, the German philosopher appears early on, breaking down into madness on witnessing a horse being whipped in a Turinese street. In dense, philosophically charged prose, Krasznahorkai questions language, history, and what we take to be facts, all the while rocketing from one corner of the world to the next, from Budapest to Varanasi and Okinawa, all places eminently worthy of being left behind. Complex and difficult, as are all of Krasznahorkai's works, but worth sticking with.
"One begins a Krasznahorkai story like a free diver, with a deep inhalation before plunging in. His fiction is not faithful to literary convention, but it is faithful to life. The extended periods of quiescence, the isolated glimpses of the sublime, the portentous images signifying nothing, the mundane images signifying everything, the arbitrary eruptions of horror and beauty—though Krasznahorkai’s technique relies upon artifice, the result is an honest, courageous, often harrowing portrait of a civilization in drift and decline"
The Atlantic - Nathaniel Rich
"Our current condition of displacement, says László Krasznahorkai in
The World Goes On, cannot be told; only with great difficulty can language be budged out of endless spirallings of frustration. But then the collection goes on to offer stories of journeys that, whether undertaken or thwarted, arrive at transcendence. At the end there is only one way to go, in what has to be the most powerful page written so far this century."