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4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,758 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews
Already famous as the inspiration for the filmmaker Béla Tarr’s six-hour masterpiece, Satantango is proof, as the spellbinding, bleak, and hauntingly beautiful book has it, that “the devil has all the good times.”

The story of Satantango, spread over a couple of days of endless rain, focuses on the dozen remaining inhabitants of an unnamed isolated hamlet: failures stuck in
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by New Directions (first published 1985)
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Dec 27, 2014 Ema rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ema by: Declan
I am reading Satantango at my parents' house. A communist block of flats, tiny cubicles with thin walls, through which the noise of a Tv set penetrates from my neighbor upstairs. Later on, my mother comes in my room and falls asleep on my bed. Poor mom, she is always so tired... Soon, the muffled noise of the Tv intermingles with my mother's snores. I am expelled from the depths of evil; I leave behind the colony, the putrid rooms, the decay. I come back to my banal reality. I glimpse at the hal ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Seemita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not the faint-hearted, not the prejudiced; mostly keen listeners
For a rainbow-chaser and flower-collector, satan-tango is not exactly the kind of event to spend an many evenings on. The brightness is pleasing odour and the not-so-brightness is forever under verdict. But there I stayed; lurking under the disturbing, frequently tingling, always jagging edges of this strange melody oozing from the tango being played in a far land in Hungary.

In an unknown, abandoned terrain, the devil strikes my world with a soft morning hoot, a touch so ethereal, so cajoling t
Jan 23, 2013 brian rated it really liked it
krasznahorkai's hard at work on the next few in the series:

#2 Beezelbuballet
#3 Mephistophelesamba
#4 Azazelambada
#5 Antichristarantella
#6 Luciferumba
#7 Belialimbo
#8 Asmodeusalsa
Mar 19, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
Laszlo Krasznahorkai's first novel Satantango certainly plays hard-to-get. This cagey, fractal narrative—divided upon itself and reassembled, almost like a cubist painting—delights in disorienting the reader and forcing him to roll up his intellectual sleeves and get down to business. Published originally in 1985, during the decline of European communism, and finally appearing in English translation this month, Satantango offers the story of a Hungarian collective which, despite its formal disso ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Satantango, or Satan's Tango, is a wandering, twisted, dark, exhausting snarl of a book. It takes six steps forward, and six steps back, leaving chaos and the blackest of humor.

The novel is an allegorical story of a dance with the devil - the characters in their bleak little rainy hole of a village futz around, and every time they try and move forwards, the inertia of their lives drags them back. They dream of the fool's prophet, Irimias, and regress further. Sink into the earth.

It's more than E
May 20, 2016 Declan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eastern-europe
Contains spoilers.

If I change one letter in the famous dictum of Julian of Norwich I can, I think, reach the core of László Krasznahorkai's world-view: All shall be hell, and all shall be hell and all manner of things shall be hell.

In Satantango, as in The Melancholy or Resistance and War and War, we are presented with worlds without pity in which all hope is vested in a single possibility which, once realised, begins to make everything much worse than it was and then, of course, there are alway
M. Sarki
Jan 25, 2014 M. Sarki rated it really liked it

The sickly overweight doctor near the end of the book discontinues his severe watering down of his pálenka, mixing now a mere fifty-fifty blend of brandy and water as he collects in his files his records by journaling what is in his mind and the way he wants to see it now instead of his normal operating procedure of reporting on what he actually sees. In other words, the good doctor is rewriting history and there is nothing the ex-residents of the Hungaria
Sep 25, 2015 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Edward by: Caroline

A Note about the Author
A Note about the Translator
Chuck LoPresti
Mar 20, 2012 Chuck LoPresti rated it it was amazing
A stunning read. Just as Breughel paintings are revered for their almost musical composition, Krasznahorkai’s long-awaited (in English at least) Satantango unfolds likes a piece of music – a tango - in style – but not in tone. And also like Brueghel’s peasants – Kraszhnahorkai’s failures scrape along through the mud in a shambling mess of drunken sin and debauchery - but somehow are never not worth your attention. Satantango is populated by only failures and false prophets. It also works like a ...more
May 23, 2015 Mala rated it really liked it
Shelves: disturbing
A wickedly smart tale with a delicious sting in its tail. No one does Bleakness like these European writers. Satantango with its "suffocating sense of sadness," is not for everyone.
Better steal NR's 'Filmed' shelf & watch Béla Tarr's looong, haunting, cult movie:
But here's the rub: even the movie is not for everyone- didn't I mention 'cult'?

Edit: 23/5/15

Here's a fantastic review of the book:
Aug 20, 2012 Kata rated it it was amazing
László Krasznahorkai is a modern literary genius. Forget about your modern American authors, they cannot begin to compare to Krasznahorkai's work. It doesn't matter whether or not you can pronounce his name. Yes, this is the only author alive who does not know periods exist. Yes, his sentences run forever long across pages. Yes, his work might be difficult to read but his stories are amazing. So step outside of your comfort box and give him a try. It's not like you're disassociating yourself wit ...more
Irimiás scrapes the mud off his lead-heavy shoes, clears his throat, cautiously opens the door, and the rain begins again, while to the east, swift as memory, the sky brightens, scarlet and pale-blue and leans against the undulating horizon, to be followed by the sun, like a beggar daily panting up to his spot on the temple steps, full of heartbreak and misery, ready to establish the world of shadows, to separate the trees one from the other, to raise, out of the freezing, confusing homogeneity
Stephen P
Aug 14, 2012 Stephen P rated it really liked it
a book i wished to return to not one i could not put down. the author leads us on a bleak following of people left with no tangible sense of hope. they escape the experience of life and themselves through a variety of means of withdrawal and avoidance while they wait the return of a dubious character, who they have imbued with the powers of saving them. they ask not for particulars but bolster each other in their faith. the book is filled with religious-spiritual nihilistic dance steps. i found ...more
Justin Evans
Oct 14, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Thanks to the title, to the hip sort of publications that spruik this novel, the glorious cover art, the unpronounceable last name, and the publisher, I was expecting something like Pynchon for people who find Pynchon too easy to read, too plot-based, and too intellectually void. And yet I read it anyway, which suggests all sorts of Freudian things about me.

Luckily, however, Satantango is just kind of a romp. A gloriously allegorical romp, yes, in which we're asked to consider huge questions ab
Just... I don't know what happened to me. I read and read, barely had a clue what any of it all “meant.” Mostly, reading Satantango was just reading elegant, oblique sentences. Rainfall, dancing, cigarettes, glass after glass of palinka (fuck, even their booze is off-kilter), and an oppressive mood of distortion and black emptiness, the same feeling you get after you've watched a Von Trier film.

And I think that's the point.

Americans like novels with plotlines that arc as gracefully as the trajec
Jack Waters
Feb 04, 2013 Jack Waters rated it it was amazing
Structured with the forward/back variations of a tango dance, Krasznahorkai weaves in an itinerant narrative of a fallen village/ideology in which hopes & deceptions & visions & depravity & nostalgia & wishes & manipulations guide characters in their rises and falling, with schemes concocted at times as if they were possessed.

It's very sad, in that characters are displayed taking action or inaction while at wits end and also subscribing to a devotion of fantasy of some so
May 20, 2016 Sean rated it really liked it

A strange experience reading this book—the heavy bleakness shot through with a few weak rays of hope, none expected to do more than fizzle out like sparklers nearing the end of their pyrotechnic fuel—I almost gave it up after little Esti's story (view spoiler)
Stephen Durrant
May 09, 2015 Stephen Durrant rated it really liked it
Wow, bleak is thy name "Satantango!" A group of people trapped in a community that is dying, all of them victims of their own selfish delusions and other dysfunctions, constant, miserable rainfall--put simply not an iota of hope. Or maybe there is in the return of Irimias, once a leader in the community who everyone thought was long dead. Maybe he'll save them . . . or maybe damn them This all unfolds in Krasznahorkai's relentlessly dark prose. So did I like it? Surely the wrong question. Let's ...more
Review #19 of "Year of the Review All Read Books"

Critic Vivian Mercier once described Beckett's Waiting for Godot as "a play in which nothing happens, twice." Laszlo Kraznahorkai's Satantango is an attempt at trying to make nothing happen continuously. In considering the title's relation to dance the thought occurs that a dance is a form of nothing. Or rather a doing with no purpose or end goal. There is no prescribed end, except for when the music stops. Likewise in Satantango the story doesn't
Feb 02, 2016 Jans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic novel. Superb atmospheres. Shifting perspectives. Sometimes confusing. Then focussed. Sometimes funny. Then deeply existential. Poetic, sure! There is something strange and magic with these Hungarian novels. Is it the language? The society? The way of seeing? Definitely tastes like more ! A new journey into Hungarian Literature begins.
MJ Nicholls
Aug 27, 2014 MJ Nicholls marked it as sampled  ·  review of another edition
Not in the mood for bunched-up claustrophobic murderous Beckettian run-on prose-in-hell at the moment.
Jan 09, 2015 Leonie rated it liked it
Shelves: hungarian
The reviews for this, while faultlessly emphatic on its dark depressingness somehow, through this very emphasis, made me imagine something more vivaciously, energetically dark and depressing. More frenzied, I think. The reality is drearier. This begins with some depressed, desultory characters in a Hungarian village abandoned except by them. The buildings are rotting, falling apart, the inhabitants unable to prevent them from returning to the primeval mud. The monotony is broken up by the arriva ...more
May 12, 2013 Declan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eastern-europe
Contains spoilers.

If I change one letter in the famous dictum of Julian of Norwich I can, I think, reach the core of László Krasznahorkai's world-view: All shall be hell, and all shall be hell and all manner of things shall be hell.

In Satantango, as in The Melancholy or Resistance and War and War, we are presented with worlds without pity in which all hope is vested in a single possibility which, once realised, begins to make everything much worse than it was and then, of course, there are the
lyell bark
Jul 17, 2013 lyell bark rated it it was amazing
this book isn't as relentlessly grim as melancholy of reistance or war and war, which is one of the most relentlessly grim pieces of fiction i've ever read probably. everyone is covered in mud and slime the w hole time though, so it's good. and it's actually kind of funny sometimes even. the best part is at the end when the doctor discovers that order is imposed upon chaos by not cleaning your room. i tell that to my mom but she won't listen. jokes on her i'm 36 years old i don't have to do whta ...more
Mar 09, 2015 RK-ique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Once again, I wrote a full review and then, as I was about to save it, I accidently changed screens and deleted it. It was brilliant. It really was. I spent two hours on it.

I even made some great connections to Goethe's Faust (Easter bells announcing the resurrection and 'Walpurgisnacht') and to Nietzsche's eternal return.

I believe that I have captured the spirit of the book by deleting the review. Absurd.

I highly recommend it.
Michael Seidlinger
Feb 03, 2013 Michael Seidlinger rated it it was amazing
With every pull of the next sentence, I'm led deeper into the strange darkness of this book. There isn't a paragraph small enough not to swallow me whole. By the time I closed its covers, it was already clear that the book had been the one to read me. It read everything I could have said to summarize and give it any justice and, clearly, whatever I could have typed here, it wasn't enough.
Jim Leckband
Feb 29, 2016 Jim Leckband rated it liked it
There are two main difficulties with this book in my opinion. The paragraphs that go for pages without a break, and the incredible bleakness of the story.

Now these difficulties are not without their rewards. The unrelenting prose does require concentration and that concentration rewards the reader in a deeper understanding and empathy than would say reading a snappy Elmore Leonard novel.

The bleakness is tougher. This is Beckettbleak. Or even worse because of the specificity of a drowned Hungaria
Abimelech Abimelech
Apr 19, 2014 Abimelech Abimelech rated it it was amazing
Krasznahorkai is the rarest of reminders: That there is still, aside from myself, a serious writer of literary fiction left on earth. I am surprised there is not a secret no-trial prison in existence for such astonishing story-tellers. I have to see Tarr's cinematic metamorphosis. I cannot even believe such a thing exists. 1994.
Chad Post
Jun 11, 2012 Chad Post rated it it was amazing
It's been years since I read The Melancholy of Resistance, but this makes me want to go back and reread all of his previous major works. Amazing how all the pieces slide together and how he's able to maintain a certain sort of pre-apocalyptic tension throughout. So damn good.
Nov 02, 2015 Konstantin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It is a call to action," the bells chimes like a warning, like a symbol of hope or deceitful optimism: the tango beings. When you get to the end, you just turn right back around and start all over again. At first glance the sentences run like thoughts, sloppy and interminable. Yet that is the beauty of reality, sometimes the ugliest, plainest things can be lovely. The estate, where these characters of drunkenness and crass behavior live, is a mire of mud and cynicism. The only thing that event ...more
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/lit/ Revival of ...: * Week 010:Satantango 14 85 Feb 19, 2013 01:07AM  
Loosed in Transla...: Column in Northwest Booklovers 2 12 Aug 30, 2012 05:25AM  
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  • Tranquility
  • Varamo
  • A Book of Memories
  • Stone Upon Stone
  • A Journey Round My Skull
  • Maidenhair
  • Sunflower
  • They Were Counted
  • Autoportrait
  • Concrete
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • Bartleby & Co.
  • Fiasco
  • Journey by Moonlight
  • Orbitor. Aripa stângă
László Krasznahorkai is the difficult, peculiar, obsessive, visionary Hungarian author of eight novels.

He is probably best known through the oeuvre of the director Béla Tarr, who has collaborated with him on several movies. He is also the 2015 Man Booker International Prize Winner.

More about László Krasznahorkai...

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“Quietly, continually, the rain fell and the inconsolable wind that died then was forever resurrected ruffled the still surfaces of puddles so lightly it failed to disturb the delicate dead skin that had covered them during the night so that instead of recovering the previous day's tired glitter they increasingly and remorselessly absorbed the light that swam slowly out of the east.” 24 likes
“Get it into your thick head that jokes are just like life. Things that begin badly, end badly. Everything's fine in the middle, it's the end you need to worry about.” 7 likes
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