Hungarian writer Laszlo Krasznahorkai was presented the Man Booker International Prize for 2015 at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on Wednesday.
The 61-year-old writer was on the shortlist of 10 names, which included Amitav Ghosh. The literary prize, worth £60,000 (around Rs. 60 lakh), is given to a living author of any nationality who has published fiction either in English or in English translation.
Unlike the annual Man Booker Prize for fiction, the international prize, given once in two years, is in recognition of a writer’s body of work and overall contribution to fiction rather than of a single novel.
Mr. Krasznahorkai’s novels are known to be complex and demanding — a single sentence can run to a page — and deal with dystopian and apocalyptic themes in which an impending civilisational crisis threatens the world. His novels include Satantango (1985, English translation 2012), The Melancholy of Resistance (1989, English translation 1998), and Seiobo Down Below (2008, English translation 2013).
Satantango was later adapted for a film, in collaboration with the Hungarian film-maker Bela Tarr.
In the 1990s, Mr. Krasznahorkai began spending more time in East Asia, notably in Mongolia, China and Japan, and his writing began to feature themes from the aesthetics and literature of these countries. The Prisoner of Urga and Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens are books on his experiences in China and Mongolia.
In her speech at the award ceremony, Marina Warner, writer and academic, who chaired the judging panel, described Mr. Krasznahorkai as a “visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range”, and his work as “fiction as epiphany.”
“Laszlo acknowledges Kafka as a precursor, and his own ironies are clear-eyed, with a gift of re-churning reality so that what seems a far-fetched nightmare re-assembles into the all-too recognisable landscape. He can be lethal in his portraits of us human beings, yet also funny — gallows humour, surprisingly light-footed.”
Mr. Krasznahorkai’s translator George Szirtes, who was present, was given a translator’s prize of £15,000. The former winners of the Man Booker International Prize include the late Chinua Achebe of Nigeria, the American author Philip Roth, and Alice Munro from Canada, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013.