When the celebrated Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai and his translator, George Szirtes, won the Man Booker international prize in 2015, the judges were impressed by his “extraordinary sentences of incredible length”. Here, Krasznahorkai’s famous sentences, often several pages long, again have huge impact, as a fearful God-like narrator tells a series of enigmatic stories marked by a sense of futility and pessimism. In one, a boy faced with a whale confined in a metal box is “initiated… into a state of melancholy”; in another, a man obsessed with waterfalls confronts the abyss of his mind while wandering drunk in Shanghai; and, in the title story, Krasznahorkai considers how the events of 9/11 destroyed the “meaning, power, spaciousness, and precision” of language. This collection – a masterpiece of invention, utterly different from everything else – is hugely unsettling and affecting; to meet Krasznahorkai’s characters, to read his breathless, twisting sentences, is to feel altered.
• The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai is published by New Directions (£14.99). To order a copy for £12.74 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99
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