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László Krasznahorkai


László Krasznahorkai

László Krasznahorkai
Krasznahorkai awarded the Vilenica Prize, September 2014
Born (1954-01-05) 5 January 1954
Gyula, Hungary
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter
Language Hungarian, German
Nationality Hungarian
Alma mater Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) (University of Budapest)[1]
József Attila University (JATE) (University of Szeged)[1]
Genre novels, short stories, screenplays
Literary movement Postmodernism
Notable works Satantango (1985)
The Melancholy of Resistance (1989)
War and War (1999)
Seiobo There Below (2008)
Notable awards Man Booker International Prize
Kossuth Prize
DAAD fellowship
Spouse Anikó Pelyhe (m. 1990, divorced)
Dóra Kopcsányi (m. 1997)[2]
Children three (Kata, Ágnes, and Panni)[2]

László Krasznahorkai (Hungarian pronunciation: ; born 5 January 1954) is a Hungarian novelist and screenwriter who is known for critically difficult and demanding novels, often labeled as postmodern, with dystopian and melancholic themes.[3] Several of his works, notably his novels Satantango (Sátántangó, 1985) and The Melancholy of Resistance (Az ellenállás melankóliája, 1989), have been turned into feature films by Hungarian film director Béla Tarr.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and education 1.1
    • Career as writer 1.2
    • Personal life 1.3
  • Importance and interpretation 2
  • Works 3
    • Books 3.1
    • Screenplays for films 3.2
    • Collections and critical studies 3.3
  • Honors and awards 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
    • Further reading 5.2
  • External links 6


Early life and education

Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary, on 5 January 1954,[1][4] the son of György Krasznahorkai, a lawyer, and Júlia Pálinkás, a social security administrator.[2]

After completing his secondary education in 1972 at the Erkel Ferenc high school where he specialized in Latin, he studied law from 1973 to 1976 at József Attila University (JATE) (now the University of Szeged) and from 1976 to 1978 at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) (formerly the University of Budapest).[1] After completing these law studies, he sought a degree in Hungarian language and literature from Eötvös Loránd University.[1] As a requirement of his degree work, he submitted a formal thesis on the work and experiences of Hungarian writer and journalist Sándor Márai (1900–1989) after he fled Hungary in 1948 to escape the Communist regime that seized power after World War II (Márai lived in exile in Italy and later San Diego, California).[1] During his years as a university student in Budapest, Krasznahorkai worked at Gondolat Könyvkiadó, a publishing company.[4] Krasznahorkai received his degree in 1983.[1]

Career as writer

Since completing his university studies Krasznahorkai has supported himself as an independent author. When in 1985 his first major publication Satantango achieved success, he was immediately thrust into the forefront of Hungarian literary life. The book, a dystopian novel set in his native Hungary, is regarded as his most famous. It received a Best Translated Book Award in the English language in 2013.[5]

He travelled outside of Communist Hungary for the first time in 1987, spending a year in West Berlin as a recipient of a DAAD fellowship. Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, he has lived in a variety of locations.[5] In 1990, for the first time, he was able to spend a significant amount of time in East Asia. He drew upon his experiences in Mongolia and China in writing The Prisoner of Urga and Destruction and Sorrow beneath the Heavens. He has returned many times to China.[6]

In 1993, his novel The Melancholy of Resistance received the German Bestenliste-Prize for the best literary work of the year.[5][7] In 1996, he was a guest of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.[6] While completing the novel War and War, he travelled widely across Europe. The American poet Allen Ginsberg was of great assistance in completing the work; Krasznahorkai resided for some time in Ginsberg’s New York apartment, and he described the poet’s friendly advice as valuable in bringing the book to life.[8]

In 1996, 2000, and 2005 he spent six months in Kyoto. His contact with the aesthetics and literary theory of the Far East resulted in significant changes in his writing style and deployed themes.[9] He returns often to both Germany and Hungary, but he has also spent varying lengths of time in several other countries, including the United States, Spain, Greece, and Japan,[10] chronicling them in his novel Seiobo There Below, which won the Best Translated Book Award in 2014.[11]

Beginning in 1985, the renowned director and the author's good friend Béla Tarr made films almost exclusively based on Krasznahorkai's works, including Sátántangó and Werckmeister Harmonies.[6] Krasznahorkai said the 2011 film The Turin Horse would be their last collaboration.[12]

Krasznahorkai has received international acclaim from critics. Susan Sontag described him as "the contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville".[5] W. G. Sebald remarked, "The universality of Krasznahorkai's vision rivals that of Gogol's Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing."[13] In 2015, he received the Man Booker International Prize, the first Hungarian author to be so awarded.[7]

Personal life

After residing in Berlin, Germany for several years, where he was for six months S. Fischer Guest Professor at the Free University of Berlin, Krasznahorkai currently resides "as a recluse in the hills of Szentlászló" in Hungary.[2][14] After divorcing his first wife, Anikó Pelyhe whom he married in 1990, he married his second wife, Dóra Kopcsányi, a sinologist and graphic designer, in 1997.[2] He has three children: Kata, Ágnes and Emma.[2]

Importance and interpretation

Regarding The Melancholy of Resistance (1989):



  • 1985: Satantango (Sátántangó), novel.
    • Translated by George Szirtes for New Directions Publishing.
  • 1986: Relations of Grace (Kegyelmi viszonyok), short stories.
  • 1989: The Melancholy of Resistance (Az ellenállás melankóliája), novel.
    • Translated by George Szirtes for New Directions Publishing.
  • 1992: The Prisoner of Urga (Az urgai fogoly), novel.
  • 1993: The Universal Theseus (A Théseus-általános), three fictional lectures.
  • 1998: Isaiah Has Come (Megjött Ézsaiás), short story.
    • Translated by George Szirtes for New Directions Publishing and included in War & War.
  • 1999: War and War (Háború és háború), novel.
    • Translated by George Szirtes for New Directions Publishing.
  • 2001: Evening at Six: Some Free Exhibition-Opening Speeches (Este hat; néhány szabad megnyitás), essays.
  • 2003: Krasznahorkai: Conversations (Krasznahorkai Beszélgetések), interviews.
  • 2003: From the North by Hill, From the South by Lake, From the West by Roads, From the East by River (Északról hegy, Délről tó, Nyugatról utak, Keletről folyó), novel.
    • To be translated by George Szirtes for New Directions Publishing.
  • 2004: Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens (Rombolás és bánat az Ég alatt), novel.
    • To be translated by Ottilie Mulzet for Seagull Books.
  • 2008: Seiobo There Below (Seiobo járt odalent), novel.
    • Translated by Ottilie Mulzet for New Directions Publishing.
  • 2009: The Last Wolf (Az utolsó farkas), short story.
    • Translated by George Szirtes for Words without Borders.
  • 2010: Animalinside (Állatvanbent), together with Max Neumann, collage of prose and pictures.
    • Translated by Ottilie Mulzet for The Cahiers Series.
  • 2012: He Neither Answers Nor Questions: Twenty-five Conversations on the Same Subject (Nem kérdez, nem válaszol. Huszonöt beszélgetés ugyanarról.), interviews.
  • 2013: The World Goes on (Megy a világ), short stories.
    • To be translated by Ottilie Mulzet for New Directions Publishing.

Screenplays for films

Collections and critical studies

  • 2013: Music & Literature No. 2, book length special issue of the magazine with texts by Krasznahorkai and essays on his work by Béla Tarr and Max Neumann.[16]

Honors and awards

Krasznahorkai has been honored with numerous literary prizes, among them the highest award of the Hungarian state, the Kossuth Prize, and the Man Booker International Prize for his English-translated oeuvre.[7]

  • 2015: Man Booker International Prize[17]
  • 2014: Vilenica Prize (Vilenica International Literary Festival, Slovenia)
  • 2014: Best Translated Book Award, winner for Seiobo There Below, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet. First author to win two BTBA awards.[18]
  • 2014: America Award for a lifetime contribution to international writing
  • 2013: [19]
  • 2012: Prima Primissima Prize (Budapest, Hungary)
  • 2010: Brücke-Berlin Prize (Berlin, Germany) for Seiobo There Below
  • 2010: Spycher-Prize (Leuk, Switzerland) for his complete work but in particular for From the North a Mountain, ...[20]
  • 2009: Prize of the Society of Writers (Budapest, Hungary)
  • 2008: Hungarian Heritage-Award, (Budapest, Hungary)
  • 2007: Nominated for Jean Monnet Prize (France)
  • 2004: Kossuth Prize (Hungary)
  • 2003: Soros Foundation Prize
  • 2002: Laureate of the Hungarian Republic (Magyar Köztársaság Babérkoszorúja)
  • 1998: Márai Sándor Prize (Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture)
  • 1993: Krúdy Gyula Prize (Hungary)
  • 1993: Bestenliste-Prize (Baden-Baden, Germany) for The Melancholy of Resistance
  • 1992: Déry Tibor Award (Hungary)
  • 1987–1988: DAAD Fellowship (West Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany)
  • 1987: József Attila Prize (Hungary)
  • 1987: Mikes Kelemen Kör Prize (The Netherlands)



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Krasznahorkai biography (official website) (Retrieved 9 August 2012).
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Krasznahorkai, Laszlo 1954–". Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series 158. 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2012. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Wood, James (4 July 2011). "Madness and Civilization: The very strange fictions of László Krasznahorkai". The New Yorker 87 (19): 71–75. 
  4. ^ a b Görömbei, András. "László Krasznahorkai, Hungarian writer".  
  5. ^ a b c d Bausells, Marta (20 May 2015). "Everything you need to know about László Krasznahorkai, winner of the Man Booker International prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "László Krasznahorkai". Hungarian Review. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "Man Booker International prize 2015 won by 'visionary' László Krasznahorkai". The Guardian. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "László Krasznahorkai: The Disciplined Madness". Guernica. 26 April 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Vonnak, Diana (25 April 2014). "East Meets East: Krasznahorkai's Intellectual Affair With Japan". Hungarian Literature Online. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Csaba Tóth (31 July 2014). "Laszlo Krasznahorkai: Hungary has been showing its uglier face the past 25 years". The Budapest Beacon. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (29 April 2014). "Can you say Laszlo Krasznahorkai?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Hopkins, James (2013). "Interview with László Krasznahorkai". Transcript. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "LÁSZLÓ KRASZNAHORKAI: ANIMALINSIDE". The American University of Paris. 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  14. ^ László Krasznahorkai – Author at New Directions Publishing (Retrieved 9 August 2012).
  15. ^ Ervin, Andrew (18 January 2001). "Hungary for More: Let The Melancholy of Resistance be your introduction to Hungarian literature". Philadelphia City Paper. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "László Krasznahorkai". Music & Literature Magazine (2). 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ "Hungarian writer wins Man Booker International Prize". The Times of India. 20 May 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Post, Chad W. (28 April 2014). "BTBA 2014: Poetry and Fiction Winners". Three Percent. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Post, Chad W. (6 May 2013). "2013 BTBA Winners". Three Percent. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. 
  20. ^ "Literaturpreis 2010 an Alissa Walser und László Krasznahorkai [Literature Prize 2010 for Alissa Walser and László Krasznahorkai]" (in Deutsch). 6 May 2010. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. 

Further reading

  • Auerbach, David "The Mythology of László Krasznahorkai," The Quarterly Conversation, 7 June 2010
  • Wood, James "Madness and Civilization: The very strange fictions of László Krasznahorkai," The New Yorker, 4 July 2011, pp. 71–75.
  • Ervin, Andrew (18 January 2001). "Hungary for More: Let The Melancholy of Resistance be your introduction to Hungarian literature". Philadelphia City Paper. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. 

External links

  • lászló krasznahorkai (official website)
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