Gil Lawson at n+1:
This is hardly the first time Krasznahorkai has spent a novel grinding his readers up against the limits of reality. His earlier works explore the same themes as Seiobo, although to markedly different ends. Satantango (1985) and The Melancholy of Resistance (1989) are both set in post-communist Hungary, in modest towns beset by unexpected visitors. Both novels construct closed worlds in which entropy increases, all things tend downward, and any hope is shown to be futile. In Satantango, the characters are suckered out of their money; in Melancholy, the town erupts in disastrous rioting. Time plows onward, increasing rot, aging, rust, chaos, death. Here, Krasznahorkai’s long sentences feel like attempts at slowing down the steady encroachment of time, as though that might help prevent any further deterioration. Of course, there is no success. Everything crumbles eventually. There’s something admirable about Krasznahorkai’s willingness to write monstrous misery, and the relentless cataloguing of suffering in his earlier works makes for memorable stories. Nonetheless, it’s that same intransigence that ultimately limits his early novels: their ceaseless darkness proves anesthetizing when stretched across hundreds of pages. It’s a technique that is as likely to bore as to horrify.