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Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming

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WINNER OF THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE

"Krasznahorkai’s masterpiece" (The Millions); "Apocalyptic, visionary, and mad" (Publishers Weekly); "One of the supreme achievements of contemporary literature" (Paris Review); "Obsessive and visionary" (The New Yorker); "Genius" (The Baffler)

 

At last, the capstone to Krasznahorkai’s four-part masterwork

Set in contemporary times, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming tells the story of a Prince Myshkin–like figure, Baron Béla Wenckheim, 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. Confusions abound, and what follows is an endless storm of gossip, con men, and local politicians, vividly evoking the small town’s alternately drab and absurd existence. All along, the Professor―a world-famous natural scientist who studies mosses and inhabits a bizarre Zen-like shack in a desolate area outside of town―offers long rants and disquisitions on his attempts to immunize himself from thought. Spectacular actions are staged as death and the abyss loom over the unsuspecting townfolk.

"The baron cuts a memorable figure, but the real star of Krasznahorkai's story is a philosopher who has cut himself off from society and lives in hermitage in a forest park, concerned with problems of being and nonbeing. In the end, the worlds the philosopher, the baron, and other characters inhabit are slated to disappear in a wall of flame."
― Kirkus

"If you’re a fan of Krasznahorkai, you already know that you need to read this one: the final volume in his four-part series, in which the aging Baron Bela Wenckheim proceeds home to Hungary, to the highly absurd town of his birth."
― Emily Temple, LitHub

"At the end of his life, Baron Wenckheim returns to a small town in Hungary, in search of his lost love. From this, László Krasznahorkai forges a fictional universe populated with rogues and visionaries, at once epic and intimate, apocalyptic and deeply comic. Ottilie Mulzet's remarkable translation captures the density of his extended sentences, their many twists and pivots, and the slow accumulation of their extraordinary intellectual and moral force. Singular and uncompromising, Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming is a masterpiece by one of the great writers of our time."
― National Book Award Judges' citation

"Krasznahorkai's headlong comedy of obsession and wonderful squalor set in small-town Hungary. Majestic."
― New York Times Book Review

"With an immense cast and wide-ranging erudition, this novel, the culmination of a Hungarian master's career, offers a sweeping view of a contemporary moment that seems deprived of meaning."
― The New Yorker

"Krasznahorkai's fictions emit a recognizably entropic music. His novels―equal parts artful attenuation and digressive deluge―suggest a Beckettian impulse overwhelmed by obsessive proclivities. The epic length of a Krasznahorkai sentence slowly erodes its own reality, clause by scouring clause, until at last it releases the terrible darkness harbored at its core. Baron Wenkcheim’s Homecoming is a fitting capstone to Krasznahorkai’s tetralogy, one of the supreme achievements of contemporary literature."
― Dustin Illingworth, Paris Review Daily

"“I’ve said a thousand times that I always wanted to write just one book. Now, with Baron, I can close this story. With this novel I can prove that I really wrote just one book in my life. This is the book―Satantango, Melancholy, War and War, and Baron. This is my one book.”"
― László Krasznahorkai, Paris Review Interview

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