Hungarian Literature

Book Review – Lazlo Krasznahorkai: Seiobo There Below

Perhaps a better title for this offering from 2015’s Man Booker International Prize winner would’ve been Seiobo There Beyond Me as I struggled to follow this series of short stories that encompassed subjects from Japanese culture, Baroque music and the creative process that all artists work with and then the author added to that bizarre syntax, in fact even as a series of short stories comprised this book, I think the author only used two or three periods the whole time!? This made the reading very hard to follow both for content and presentation now that’s strange because the author repeated himself many times throughout the book which led to some dull reading and that could explain his liberal use of repetition but still I struggled to follow even though Krasznahorkai repeated himself over and over!? Funny I wrote that because one of the things that he really enjoyed overusing happened to be the !? punctuation mark and I don’t know why !? A period would’ve been nice once in a while but, this author for some reason disdains them for reasons known only to him, which is strange since I read myriad commas and semi-colons, that makes me guess the !? is more interesting looking in his mind and that’s his artistic call; since the book addressed numerous themes dealing with the arts maybe that works; well, whatever, that was almost the most engaging element of the entire book !? I know that’s mean, and not entirely fair since the author did have a few interesting lyrical flourishes, because of the book’s tone, the cryptic nature of all of them didn’t surprise me, such as “the Baroque is  the artwork of pain” (Page 354) and “he had attained what he dreamed of, and yet had not attained it at all” (Page 141) I’m not sure what the last one means, and from reading the context, I couldn’t figure it out which made me wish the author could have returned to that theme since he wasn’t averse to repeating himself in the book, oh yes, did  I forget to mention that !? Krasznahorkai repeated himself a lot, and I mean a lot, in Seiobo There Below which I suppose if he wanted to have sentences run on for pages that sort of thing is inevitable; but still Seiobo There Below made for extremely challenging reading between the esoteric approach to stream of consciousness writing and the obscure references that I knew nothing about; not that I should complain, the book kept me occupied for several days right up until every story’s Nihilistic end that came abruptly !?