It might not be time to write a requiem for postmodern literature just yet, but it probably isn’t too early to wish it well as it heads off to South Florida to spend its golden years playing shuffleboard and complaining about the rising cost of grapefruit. Both a reaction to as well as a derivative of modernism, which saw writers trying to make sense of the rapidly changing world between the World Wars, postmodernism has advanced, as it were, to the point where one-time wunderkinds like Paul Auster have settled on simply writing memoirs about the hell that is old age. There is still some life left in the minor late-period works of Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon, authors indelibly tied to the nebulous term, but Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai is truly the last of the great postmodern writers that grew up in the shadow of World War II. His latest novel, Seiobo There Below—his seventh available in English and available now in a new translation—is a send up of postmodernism’s systemic critique of progress and also something altogether blissful. Coming from a man famously labeled “the contemporary Hungarian master of the apocalypse” (his books carry this phrase on their covers like a badge), this is no small departure.
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