This winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature tells the story of a Prince Myshkin-like figure who returns at the end of his life to his provincial Hungarian hometown. Having escaped from his many casino debts in Buenos Aires, where he was living in exile, he longs to be reunited with his high-school sweetheart Marika.
... a typically extraordinary translation from Ottilie Mulzet ... Ascribing Krasznahorkai’s allure to plot is rarely fruitful; at best, the events are an armature over which the thickened material of consciousness can drape and flow ... The great paradox of his fiction is that the speed and intensity of its sentences suggests a seething, maximalist vision, though what actually happens is quite modest in terms of developed incident ... The wonderful paradox of [Krasznahorkai's] thought-killing exercises is that they in fact produce endless waves of foaming cognition. In just a few pages, he touches on the concept of the infinite, fear as the birth of culture, the cowardice of atheism, and the pervasiveness of human illusion ... His fiction’s recursive darkness can obscure its ambiguous grace. It makes space for everything human, which is to say even—and perhaps especially—the inhuman and the frankly monstrous. This is not hysterical realism but the triumph of excess in all its startling, gravid particularity ... a fitting capstone to Krasznahorkai’s tetralogy, one of the supreme achievements of contemporary literature. Now seems as good a time as any to name him among our greatest living novelists.
... superb ... a manic Greek chorus that infuses festive Technicolor into his multifaceted, bleak vision. It is Krasznahorkai’s funniest and most profound book and, quite possibly, also his most accessible. Krasznahorkai has hinted that this may be his final novel and, if that’s the case, then it is a tremendous sendoff to one of our most talented writers ... Krasznahorkai is an uncommonly generous writer. Even as he teases, maligns, and undermines his characters, he remains empathetic to their plights and blind spots, for he knows that even the most evil deeds are conjured by brokenness ... sections flow easily as Krasznahorkai’s meandering prose swaps points of view at each paragraph break, allowing his characters’ opinions to mesh and conflict. Incredible distance is covered in an oddly intimate, if disorienting, way. While this tactic can make a new reader initially seasick, the reader who sticks with it finds the going easier and the rewards many. The emotional and psychological realizations Krasznahorkai can evoke are singular and breathtaking ... As the world seeks to reduce and streamline communication, and as our attention spans are attenuated by our thirst for digital-world dopamine-hits, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming presents a powerful rebuttal to our infatuation with easy, saccharine anger ... precisely the novel we need in these difficult, foreboding times.
... his latest, longest, strangest, and possibly greatest novel ... though it has its confrontations with despair and nihilism, Wenckheim is the funniest of Krasznahorkai’s novels ... Part of Krasznahorkai’s genius has been his ability to absorb the tectonic changes of politics and culture into his singular style: his challenge of despair is applicable under any economic system ... Krasznahorkai’s work remains a powerful and pessimistic challenge to all forms of received thought, particularly intellectual laziness and the vain overestimation of our own goodness ... Maybe it is actually quite difficult to imagine the end of the world when we’re bombarded with so many false images of it. Figuring out who will get their face bitten off by a zombie on next week’s The Walking Dead (now entering its tenth season) isn’t a representation of the end of the world: it’s a franchisable facsimile of the world we can’t understand and maybe never could. Krasznahorkai invites us to consider more deeply the disorder that’s always lurked inside.