Meet the author: László Krasznahorkai

Thu 31.10.2019
20:00 - 21:30
Lazlo Kraznahorkai C Nina Subin Large




€ 9 / 7 presale ; € 10 / 8 at the door


in English and Hungarian

Meet the author

The meetings with writers at Passa Porta, prepared with passion, courage and thoroughness, are more than simply the presentation of literary works. We seek to achieve a genuine connection between writer and reader, and among readers themselves.

Go to overview

A rumour is going around a small Hungarian town that Béla Wenckheim, a rich aristocrat, is returning from Argentina. More and more people are counting on him to bring back a ton of money and help the city flourish again. What follows, however, far exceeds expectations … With Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, International Booker Prize winner László Krasznahorkai delivers a funny, compelling and wondrous tale.

Dystopian vortex

Baron Wenckheim is indeed returning. But when he unexpectedly dies after a series of tragicomic misunderstandings, the disillusioned population revolts. A huge fire breaks out in the city. The only survivor is an idiot who has escaped from the asylum and sings on top of the water tower. With one powerfully visual scene after another, Krasznahorkai guides us through his story with as much irony as ever, but this time with a humour that is a lot more overt. The downfall draws you in with a grin.

From cult author to popular author

During the Passa Porta Festival 2015 we virtually saw it happen under our very noses: László Krasznahorkai’s metamorphosis from cult author to popular author. Before the event, we had heard the wildest rumours: that he was dead, that he had given up writing, that he had moved to China. Apparently we were dealing with an author who worked in remote isolation – in voluntary exile, it soon turned out too. He’d be there, but would the readers?

The literary gods were with us: in the days leading up to the festival, the jury of the prestigious International Booker Prize announced its shortlist, which included the English translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango. The venue soon sold out. A few weeks later Krasznahorkai went on to win the prize. And the rest, as they say, is history: ‘the contemporary Hungarian master of the apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville’, in the words of Susan Sontag, is high on the list of every literary connoisseur.

László Krasznahorkai was born in 1954 in Gyula, a small town in Hungary, then a satellite state of the Soviet Union. He studied law and Hungarian literature. Krasznahorkai published his first novel, Satantango, in 1985. This was followed by The Melancholy of Resistance (1989) and War and War (1999), and now Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming (2016). In addition to novels, Krasznahorkai has published several novels, essays and travel stories. His work has been translated, rewarded and filmed many times, including by Béla Tarr. Although he retains a house in Hungary, Krasznahorkai has lived in voluntary exile in Berlin for quite some time.

László Krasznahorkai will be interviewed by Marnix Verplancke, literary critic at De Morgen and Knack. Actor Koen De Sutter will bring a reading from the novel.

‘These novels, with their giant accretions of language, global ¬erudition (he’s as familiar with the classics of Buddhist philosophy as he is with the European intellectual tradition), obsessive characters, and rain-sodden landscapes, might give an impression of hardened late-modernist hauteur, but they are also pointillist, elegant, and delicately funny. His gravity has panache.’
Adam Thirlwell in the introduction to the Paris Review Interview with Krasznahorkai.
‘This (The Melancholy of Resistance) is a book about a world into which the Leviathan has returned. The universality of its vision rivals that of Gogol’s Dead Souls and far surpasses al the lesser concerns of contemporary writing.’
W.G. Sebald
​‘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.’
Imre Kertész
Passa Porta, Wereldbibliotheek
Photo © Nina Subin

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