In recent years, László Krasznahorkai has edged into the stable of great living writers. Several of the Hungarian’s novels – slabs of text that one of his translators said resembled ‘a slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type’ – have been published in English, and each has been hailed with words such as ‘visionary’ or ‘mythic’. Like the seven-hour film adaptation of his novel Satantango, Krasznahorkai’s works require some commitment. They operate according to their own internal, elastic sense of space and time. But they are also stunning books, and in the thin market for literary translations, they remain exemplars of what many English-language readers are missing.
Seiobo There Below, the latest to appear in English, is less a novel than a collection of enigmatic, overlapping short stories dealing with art and sacredness. The book opens with a vast, sensuous description of a landscape that resolves into an image of a crane hunting in a pond by