Chasing Homer Good luck, and nothing else : Odysseus's cave

László Krasznahorkai

Book - 2021

"In this thrilling chase narrative, a hunted being escapes certain death at breakneck speed-careening through Europe, heading blindly South. Faster and faster, escaping the assassins, our protagonist flies forward, blending into crowds, adjusting to terrains, hopping on and off ferries, always desperately trying to stay a step ahead of certain death: the past did not exist, only what was current existed-a prisoner of the instant, rushing into this instant, an instant that had no continuation ... Krasznahorkai-celebrated for the exhilarating energy of his prose-outdoes himself in Chasing Homer. And this unique collaboration boasts beautiful full-color paintings by Max Neumann and-reaching out of the book proper-the wildly percussive mus...ic of Szilveszter Miklós scored for each chapter (to be accessed by the reader via QR codes)"--

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New York : New Directions Publishing Corporation 2021.
Main Author
László Krasznahorkai (author)
Other Authors
Max Neumann, 1949- (illustrator), Szilveszter Miklós, 1983- (musician), John Batki (translator)
Item Description
A New Directions book.
Physical Description
pages cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Krasznahorkai's strange and engrossing novella (after Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming) reads like a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie dreamed up by Beckett and Kafka. Killers with an unknown motive are chasing the narrator, who has become by necessity an autodidact of survival skills, through Croatia along the Adriatic Coast. At a tourist bar in Korčula, holed up after being chilled to the bone by ominous gusts of the "Bora," the hero overhears a tour guide convince a couple to let him lead them on a tour of Mljet, a small island believed by its inhabitants to be the true location of Odysseus's sojourn with Calypso, and follows them there. The hero's account up to this point has been filled with reports of fast, chaotic, unpredictable movement to ward off the hunters, and of pledges to resist the animalistic pleasures in life, which would lead to doom, but at Korčula, something changes. Batki's translation exquisitely captures the grace underlying the hero's frenetic mindset ("I must plunge, from the edge of a moment right into its midst, just like some Moby-Dick, or a dying butterfly between two flower petals"), as do the vignettes scored by free jazz drummer Szilveszter Miklós for each chapter (accessible via QR codes that appear in the text). Whether on a large canvas or small, Krasznahorkai never ceases to impress. (Nov.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

In this latest from the challenging Krasznahorkai, winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature for Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming and the 2015 Man Booker International Prize for his oeuvre, a hunted creature flees frantically southward through Europe, seeking to escape death. With full-color paintings by Max Neumann and a rattlingly percussive score by Szilveszter Miklós associated with each chapter and accessed via QR codes.

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

The always noteworthy Hungarian novelist Krasznahorkai delivers a postmodern study of alienation and exile. The reference to Homer in the title becomes clear late in this deceptively short novel. Its unnamed narrator is a man who has been on the run for years, possibly even "decades," sure neither of chronology nor of his pursuers. All he knows, he tells us in onrushing prose whose sentences take pages to resolve, is that "my only chance of survival is to flee--and to keep on fleeing." One of the places to which he flees takes him into the company of a tour guide on a Croatian island who invokes both The Tempest and The Odyssey, its heroes travelers whose returns home are ever in peril. "Look here now, this is Homer, it's not me speaking, but Homer himself, understand what I'm saying?" the tour guide harangues a Japanese couple who appear unconvinced by his reading of the epic's opening lines, and, when he doesn't win them over, he delivers a manifesto that could be straight out of Lenin: "The right to hospitality is finished, tourism is dead!" Tourists are everywhere in our narrator's way, clogging up traffic across his history-haunted Europe in "herds flocked together to see the sights of a given locale, or on a train, or aboard a ship, or standing in line for food…." As he travels, the narrator muses on sanity and insanity, on (with hints of Elias Canetti) crowds and their manipulation, and on the ideal of the good transmogrified into an impediment that "lulls you and dulls you…[so that] now you can relax, stretch, crack your knuckles and kick back." There is no rest, no comfort in thoughts of the good, for this man in flight from unknown others who may be secret police agents, assassins, or mere hunters. Particularly beguiling are the percussive sonic vignettes that accompany the book chapter by chapter, available online via QR codes at the head of each. Allusive and acerbic: a brilliant work that proves the adage that even paranoiacs have enemies. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.