Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai has won the Man Booker International Prize. The 61-year-old, who has previously won the Vilenica Prize and Soros Foundation Prize, collected his £60,000 award at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London last night. He is the first European winner of the Man Booker International, which is awarded to a living author every two years on the basis of an entire literary career, since the Albanian novelist Ismail Kadaré took the inaugural prize in 2005.
Krasznahorkai, whose work has been compared to Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett, was praised by the chair of judges, the academic and writer Marina Warner, as a “visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range who captures the texture of present day existence in scenes that are terrifying, strange, appallingly comic, and often shatteringly beautiful”.
Krasznahorkai gained recognition in 1985 when he published the novel Sátántangó, which he later adapted into a seven and a half hour film in collaboration with the filmmaker Bela Tarr. His 1989 novel The Melancholy of Resistance was commended by the judges for its “extraordinary sentences, sentences of incredible length that go to incredible lengths, their tone switching from solemn to madcap to quizzical to desolate as they go their wayward way.”
Although most of Krasznahorkai’s works have been limited to audiences in Hungary and Germany, five of his works of fiction have been translated into English. The writer split the £15,000 translator’s prize between the two translators of his work, the Hungarian-born poet George Szirtes and literary critic Ottilie Mulzet.