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Saturday, April 28, 2018

The World Goes On (2017) Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Book Review
The World Goes On (2017)
 Laszlo Krasznahorkai

   The World Goes On, by Hungarian author Laszlo Krasznahorkai, is the third book from the 2018 Booker International Prize list of nominees, and the second book from the six title short list.  I'm on the waiting list for a third short list title, Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmad Saadawi.  I'm frankly unsure if I'm going to be able to track down the other three titles.   The World Goes On is a collection of short stories, about three hundred pages long, and a terrible, terrible, terrible book to read on a Kindle.  Reading the stories in The World Goes On at time resembles Samuel Beckett, who is actually the narrator of one of the stories in the book.  Another reference point is Portuguese author Jose Saramago.  Stretching back further in time, Borges.

  Listing those three authors as reference points is about as complete a description as I can give without simply description the action (or more often) lack of action in each story.  The marketing and critical material that accompanies this release includes frequent use of the term "apocalyptic," and I suppose you could say the same thing about Beckett, so in that regard, it's true, but for heavens sake don't expect anything exciting to happen.

  Each story has a puzzle aspect that requires the reader to actively consider, what, exactly, is happening.  That is a hallmark of experimental fiction, and a result, The World Goes On fits squarely within that tradition, without innovating- it's like a skilled homage.   Krasznahorkai was omitted from the 1001 Books list- you could argue that taking one of his books, instead of Celestial Harmonies by Peter Esterhazy would be a more fitting representative for late twentieth century/early 21st century central European fiction in a representative canon.   Not this book though.  And I wouldn't think The World Goes On wins the  2018 Booker International Prize, either.

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