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Man Booker International Shortlist 2018: The World Goes On by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

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As the 2018 Man Booker longlist announcement looms closer, Book Worm continues making her way through the international Man Booker shortlist. Book Number 5 from the shortlist and is a short story collection. If you follow us regularly, you’ll probably be able to predict how this will go…

Synopsis from Goodreads: A Hungarian interpreter obsessed with waterfalls, at the edge of the abyss in his own mind, wanders the chaotic streets of Shanghai. A traveller, reeling from the sights and sounds of Varanasi, encounters a giant of a man on the banks of the Ganges ranting on the nature of a single drop of water. A child labourer in a Portuguese marble quarry wanders off from work one day into a surreal realm utterly alien from his daily toils.

In The World Goes On, a narrator first speaks directly, tells twenty-one unforgettable stories, then bids farewell (‘for here I would leave this earth and these stars, because I would take nothing with me‘). As Laszlo Krasznahorkai himself explains: ‘Each text is about drawing our attention away from this world, speeding our body toward annihilation, and immersing ourselves in a current of thought or a narrative…’

The World Goes On is another masterpiece by the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. ‘The excitement of his writing,’ Adam Thirlwell proclaimed in the New York Review of Books, ‘is that he has come up with his own original forms-there is nothing else like it in contemporary literature.’

Book Worm’s Thoughts:  Regular followers of this blog will know that I don’t like short story collections. So you won’t be surprised to know that I didn’t enjoy this book at all. In fact when I finished reading it my thought was “WTF have I just read?”

This short story collection mainly looks at issues from a philosophical point of view. There was no character development and very little plot. Each story was more like a stream of consciousness, rambling about whatever the narrator of that section thought was important.

In terms of progress throughout the novel, the narrator at the beginning appears to be in some kind of prison while the narrator at the end is looking at escaping the confines of life itself. Unfortunately, I was not particularly invested in what happened to either of them.

Here are my ratings:

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 1/4
Plot development: 1/4
Overall enjoyment: 0/2
Total: 8/20

We want to hear from you. Have you read this book? What did you think? Does it appeal to you?

Ranking to date (click on the links to read the other reviews):

1. Vernon Subutex One (16/20)
1. Frankenstein in Baghdad (16/20)
2. The White Book (14/20)
3. Like a Fading Shadow (11/20)
4. The World Goes on (8/20)

Stay tuned for the 2018 Man Booker feature we do every year. Our panel of 6 judges will be posting our predictions for the longlist in the next few weeks.

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