A Mountain to the North, a Lake to the South, Paths to the West, a River to the East (Paperback)
A quiet, poetic, and exquisitely gorgeous novel describing a wandering mythic figure in a Kyoto monastery, by the National Book Award winner
The grandson of Prince Genji lives outside of space and time and wanders the grounds of an old monastery in Kyoto. The monastery, too, is timeless: a place of prayer and deliverance, with barely a trace of any human presence. The wanderer is searching for a garden that has long captivated him: “he continually saw the garden in his mind’s eye without being able to touch its existence.”
This exquisitely beautiful novel by National Book Award–winner László Krasznahorkai—perhaps his most serene and poetic work—describes a search for the unobtainable and the riches to be discovered along the way. Despite the difficulties in finding the garden, the reader is closely introduced to the construction processes of the monastery (described in poetic detail) as well as the geological and biological processes of the surrounding area (the underground layers revealed beneath a bed of moss, the travels of cypress-tree seeds on the wind, feral foxes and stray dogs meandering outside the monastery’s walls), making this an unforgettable meditation on nature, life, history, and being.
Ottilie Mulzet is a literary critic and translator of Hungarian. Mulzet received the National Book Award for Translated Literature in 2019 for her translation of László Krasznahorkai's Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming and the Best Translated Book Award in 2014 for her translation of Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below.
— W.G. Sebald
One of the most mysterious artists now at work.
— Colm Tóibín
Krasznahorkai has come up with his own original forms—there is nothing else like them in contemporary literature.
— Adam Thirlwell - The New York Review of Books
In the fiction of László Krasznahorkai, man struggles to achieve infinity only to find madness as his consolation prize. In A Mountain to the North, a Lake to the South, Paths to the West, a River to the East, the pretty grandson of a prince seeks a mythical garden that haunts his every waking moment. His search leads him through a labyrinthine and seemingly abandoned monastery, whose astonishing beauty and inevitable decay the author painstakingly details.
— Alex Watkins - Vulture
Best known for his dense, entropic fictions and grubby, Gogolian characters, Laszlo Krasznahorkai will surprise longtime readers with the cosmic serenity of his latest...Gorgeously translated by Ottilie Mulzet.
— Dustin Illingworth - The New York Times