John Batki is a kilimologist, writer, translator, and visual artist. He was born in Hungary and has lived in the United States since age 14.
Fiction by László Krasznahorkai
translated by John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes
In The World Goes On, a narrator first speaks directly, then tells twenty-one unforgettable stories, and then bids farewell (“for here I would leave this earth and these stars, because I would take nothing with me”). As László Krasznahorkai himself explains: “Each text is about drawing our attention away from this world, speeding our body toward annihilation, and immersing ourselves in a current of thought or a narrative...” A Hungarian interpreter obsessed with waterfalls, at the edge of the abyss in his own mind, wanders the chaotic streets of Shanghai. A traveler, reeling from the sights and sounds of Varanasi, encounters a giant of a man on the banks of the Ganges ranting on the nature of a single drop of water. A child laborer in a Portuguese marble quarry wanders off from work one day into a surreal realm utterly alien from his daily toils. The World Goes On is another amazing masterpiece by the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. “The excitement of his writing,” Adam Thirlwell proclaimed in the New York Review of Books, “is that he has come up with his own original forms—there is nothing else like it in contemporary literature.”
Available: November 15 2017
Fiction by László Krasznahorkai
translated by George Szirtes and John Batki
The Last Wolf
translated by George Szirtes
The Last Wolf features a classic, obsessed Krasznahorkai narrator, a man hired to write (by mistake, by a glitch of fate) the true tale of the last wolf of Extremadura, a barren stretch of Spain. This miserable experience (being mistaken for another, dragged about a cold foreign place, appalled by a species’ end) is narrated— all in a single sentence—as a sad looping tale, a howl more or less, in a dreary wintry Berlin bar to a patently bored bartender.
The Last Wolf is Krasznahorkai in a maddening nutshell—with the narrator trapped in his own experience (having internalized the extermination of the last creature of its kind and “ locked Extremadura in the depths of his own cold, empty, hollow heart ”)—enfolding the reader in the exact same sort of entrapment to and beyond the end, with its first full-stop period of the book.
Herman I: The Game Warden & Herman II: The Death of a Craft
translated by John Batki
Herman, “a peerless virtuoso of trapping who guards the splendid mysteries of an ancient craft gradually sinking into permanent oblivion,” is asked to clear a forest’s last “noxious beasts.” In Herman I: the Game Warden, he begins with great zeal, although in time he “suspects that maybe he was ‘on the wrong scent.’” Herman switches sides, deciding to track entirely new game...
In Herman II: The Death of a Craft, the same situation is viewed by strange visitors to the region. Hyper-sexualized aristocratic officers on a very extended leave are enjoying a saturnalia with a bevy of beauties in the town nearest the forest. With a sense of effete irony, they interrupt their orgies to pitch in with the manhunt of poor Herman, and in the end, “only we are left to relish the magic bouquet of this escapade...”