Already famous as the inspiration for the filmmaker Béla Tarr’s six-hour masterpiece, Satantango is proof, as the spellbinding, bleak, and hauntingly beautiful book has it, that “the devil has all the good times.” The story of Satantango, spread over a couple of days of endless rain, focuses on the dozen remaining inhabitants of an unnamed isolated hamlet: failures stuck in the middle of nowhere. Schemes, crimes, infidelities, hopes of escape, and above all trust and its constant betrayal are Krasznahorkai’s meat. “At the center of Satantango,” George Szirtes has said, “is the eponymous drunken dance, referred to here sometimes as a tango and sometimes as a csardas. It takes place at the local inn where everyone is drunk… . Their world is rough and ready, lost somewhere between the comic and tragic, in one small insignificant corner of the cosmos. Theirs is the dance of death.” “You know,” Mrs. Schmidt, a pivotal character, tipsily confides, “dance is my one weakness.”
Satantango and The Melancholy of Resistance are irresistible, unforgettable and required reading.
—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
Krasznahorkai has studied humanity, our weakness and folly. In his wry, engaging disenchantment lingers hope in the lucid pursuit of salvation. “Something is going to happen today,” remarks one of the characters in Satantango, and to read Krasznahorkai is to experience that frisson of anticipation and excitement, knowing that an intoxicating adventure really does await us.
—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
The excitement of Krasznahorkai’s writing is that he has come up with his own original forms — and one of the most haunting is his first, Satantango. There’s nothing else like it in contemporary literature.
—Adam Thirwell, The New York Review of Books
Linguistically [Satantango] is a stunning novel, but it’s tough going, an hours-long slog through mud and meaninglessness and superstition that will leave an indelible mark on anyone who gets through it.
—The Telegraph (UK)
Krasznahorkai produces novels that are riveting in their sinewy momentum and deeply engaging in the utter humanity of their vision.
—The Dublin Review of Books
Krasznahorkai’s sentences are snaky, circuitous things, near-endless strings of clauses and commas that through reversals, hesitations, hard turns and meandering asides come to embody time itself, to stretch it and condense it, to reveal its cruel materiality, the way it at once traps us and offers, always deceptively, to release us from its grasp, somewhere out there after the last comma and the final period: after syntax, after words.
Krasznahorkai is a poet of dilapidation, of everything that exists on the point of not-existence. He draws a community of oddballs and obsessives trying desperately to combat the passage of time as everything around them sinks into the mud of an endless rain.
Satantango is a brilliant, original and unsettling work; it is also a product of it’s time and place.
—The Quarterly Conversation
A bruising study of expectation and failure.
Krasznahorkai proves himself to be capable of bringing anything to life, and Satantango’s pages are teeming with it.
His wry, snake-like sentences produce — or unspool — layer upon layer of psychological insight, metaphysical revelation, and macroscopic historical perspective.
He is obsessed as much with the extremes of language as he is with the extremes of thought, with the very limits of people and systems in a world gone mad — and it is hard not to be compelled by the haunting clarity of his vision.
—Adam Levy, The Millions
He offers us stories that are relentlessly generative and defiantly irresolvable. They are haunting, pleasantly weird and, ultimately, bigger than the worlds they inhabit.
—Jacob Silverman, The New York Times Book Review
Krasznahorkai’s mastery of structure, character, and language is matched by his ability to simultaneously weave all three together; readers can feel themselves physiologically immersed in the world of the book, itself a finely orchestrated system.
—The New Inquiry
A writer without comparison, László Krasznahorkai plunges into the subconscious where this moral battle takes place, and projects it into a mythical, mysterious, and irresistible work of post-modern fiction, a novel certain to hold a high rank in the canon of Eastern European literature.