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Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai wins prestigious National Book Award

Budapest, Hungary – László Krasznahorkai, arguably the most prominent contemporary Hungarian writer, won the prestigious U.S. National Book Award 2019.

Translated by Ottilie Mulze, László Krasznahorkai’s novel ‘Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming’ (Báró Wenckheim hazatér in Hungarian) received the American National Book Award in the Translated Literature category – a prize intended to celebrate both the author and translator’s work. No small feat considering, as we wrote earlier this year, that one of the defining features of Krasznahorkai’s books is how difficult they are to translate in a foreign language.

The Translated Literature category was only included in its current form last year in a bid to broaden the National Book Prize’s appeal and outreach to a global audience. Krasznahorkai writer

‘Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming’ was selected earlier this year among a set of four other finalists (novels in Arabic, French, Japanese and Finnish), themselves selected out of 1,700 books submitted by publishers for this year’s edition. Krasznahorkai, along with the other 2019 laureates, also received a prize of $10,000.

“It’s a huge pleasure to be able to cross these difficult boundaries through our translators and be in homes in the United States”, Krasznahorkai said upon receiving the prestigious literary prize.

Here’s the speech he gave at the award-giving ceremony held in New York right below:

Widely seen as one of the most prestigious U.S. literary awards, along with the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award is given in five different categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, youth and foreign translated literature. You can check out the entire list of winners of the 70th annual National Book Awards on its website.

The year 2019 has been particularly good with Central European literature, to say the least: Austrian writer Peter Handke and Polish author Olga Tokarczuk were awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2018 and 2019, while literary giant Milan Kundera – another prominent Nobel contender – got his Czech citizenship restored after forty years.

Let’s hope the winning streak will continue in 2020…

Coordinated by Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk's Budapest office is made up of a growing team of freelance journalists, editors and fact-checkers passionate about Hungarian affairs and dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, events and insights from Hungary.