László Krasznahorkai accepts the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. Photo:Getty/Stuart C Wilson
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LISTEN: László Krasznahorkai's acceptance speech for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize

"I'd like to thank Jimi Hendrix."

László Krasznahorkai, the acclaimed Hungarian novelist and screenwriter, gave an extraordianry speech last night after winning the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. He told the audience at the award ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London:

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a big surprise for me. But sure as sure, I have written something. [Laughter] Because my English is not so good, and I cannot improvise. Ladies and gentlemen thank you, thank you jury, and my thanks to you - the reader. 

The list of thanks that follows is strange, witty and heartfelt, including:

To Max Sebald, the marvellous writer and friend, who is no longer among the ranks of the living, as he gazed for too long at one single blade of grass in the meadow.

You can listen to his full speech below:

 

Krasznahorkai gave similarly enigmatic answers to the press after the awards:

Nasa
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On Wheels

A new poem by Patrick Mackie

The hills swarm and soften towards the end of the day just as
flames do in a fireplace as the evening
loosens and breaks open and lets out night.
A nasty, grotesque, impatient year ended,
and the new one will be bitter,
tired, opaque. Words wrangle in every inch of air,
their mouths wide open in stupid shock
at what they have just heard every time they hear anything. Venus,
though, blazes with heavy wobbles of albeit frozen
light. Brecht, who I like to call my
brother just as he called Shelley his,
has a short late poem where he sits by a roadside, waiting
while someone changes the wheel on his car,
watching with impatience, despite not liking
either the place that he is coming from or
the place that he is going to. We call it
connectivity when in truth it is just aggression
and imitation writ ever larger. Poems, though,
are forms of infinite and wry but also briskly
impatient patience. Brecht’s poem seems to end,
for instance, almost before you
can read it. It wheels. The goddess is just a big, bright
wilderness but then soon enough she clothes
herself again in the openness of night and I lose her.

Patrick Mackie’s latest collection, The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints, is published by CB Editions.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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