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War & War (New Directions Paperbook)

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9780811216098: War & War (New Directions Paperbook)
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From the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize

A novel of awesome beauty and power by the Hungarian master, Laszla Krasznahorkai. Winner of a 2005 PEN Translation Fund Award.

War and War, Laszla Krasznahorkai's second novel in English from New Directions, begins at a point of danger: on a dark train platform Korim is on the verge of being attacked by thuggish teenagers and robbed; and from here, we are carried along by the insistent voice of this nervous clerk. Desperate, at times almost mad, but also keenly empathic, Korim has discovered in a small Hungarian town's archives an antique manuscript of startling beauty: it narrates the epic tale of brothers-in-arms struggling to return home from a disastrous war. Korim is determined to do away with himself, but before he can commit suicide, he feels he must escape to New York with the precious manuscript and commit it to eternity by typing it all on the world-wide web. Following Korim with obsessive realism through the streets of New York (from his landing in a Bowery flophouse to his moving far uptown with a mad interpreter), War and War relates his encounters with a fascinating range of humanity, a world torn between viciousness and mysterious beauty. Following the eight chapters of War and War is a short "prequel acting as a sequel," "Isaiah," which brings us to a dark bar, years before in Hungary, where Korim rants against the world and threatens suicide. Written like nothing else (turning single sentences into chapters), War and War affirms W. G. Sebald's comment that Krasznahorkai's prose "far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing."

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About the Author:

The winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature and the 2015 Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement, László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary.

George Szirtes (b. 1948) is an award-winning poet and translator who settled in England after his family fled the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. 

From Publishers Weekly:

Krasznahorkai's second English translation follows György Korin, an arguably insane former clerk from outside Budapest who arrives at JFK airport with his life savings in his coat lining, determined to put a manuscript he discovered onto the internet (and thus preserve it for eternity), and then to kill himself. The manuscript's authorship is mysterious, and Korin's narration of its contents resembles his concerns, which he unleashes on unsuspecting strangers: "We pass things without any idea what we have passed, and he didn't know, said he, whether his companion knew the feeling." Though Krasznahorkai's sentences can run on for pages, a subversive aim underlies the rambling: many characters who swiftly dismiss Korin as insane, though better at affecting normalcy, are themselves vile. A sudden, brutal murder makes Korin seem more prescient than paranoid. This lucidity, however, is tempered by an epilogue that portrays Korin as more unreliable than anything prior suggests; Krasznahorkai aims for unsettling irresolution and nails it in a way reminiscent of Kafka.
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