Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai has won the Man Booker International Prize 2015 for producing a body of work that judges praised as “magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence.”
Chosen from a shortlist of ten contenders, Krasznahorkai, 61, won the prestigious £60,000 (RM336,712) prize for works that include The Melancholy Of Resistance, Seiobo There Below and Satantango.
“Laszlo Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range,” says writer and academic Marina Warner, who chaired the panel, as she announced the winner at an award ceremony in London on May 19. “He creates scenes that are “terrifying, strange, appallingly comic, and often shatteringly beautiful”, she says, noting that Krasznahorkai was “superbly served” by his translators, George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet.
“For him, the sentence is an act of pure performance – a tense high-wire act, a piece of grave and ambitious vaudeville performed with energy both comic and ironic,” Irish novelist Colm Tóibín said of Krasznahorkai in 2010. “Prose for him is a complex vehicle moving through a world both real and surreal with considerable precision and sharpness.”
Krasznahorkai gained recognition in 1985 when he published Satantango, which he later adapted for a 1994 film with Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr, a seven-hour-plus epic about the decline of communism in Eastern Europe shot in black and white.
“I seriously reckon that there is a very advanced sphere of literature, high literature so to speak, that serves as a force against decay,” Krasznahorkai told Hungarian daily newspaper Nepszabadsag in a May 13 interview.
The Man Booker International Prize, given every two years, serves to highlight and recognise the achievements of a non-British author for their body of work. Previous winners include: Ismail Kadaré in 2005; Chinua Achebe in 2007; Alice Munro in 2009; Philip Roth in 2011; and Lydia Davis in 2013. – Reuters/Krisztina Than