The Melancholy of Resistance - László Krasznahorkai, George Szirtes
It seems to me that the back cover blurb seriously misstates the nature of this novel; but the blurb-writer can be forgiven, because it's very hard to come up with a brief description of this unconventional, disturbing, densely-worded, elliptical work. Furthermore, when discussing it, I don't want to reveal enough to spoil its considerable suspense. However, to simplify, it seems to concern itself with various ways of living in a world dominated by destruction and decay. There are two threads to the novel, both represented by a pair of contrasted characters. The depiction of the social world of the town centers on the respectable Mrs. Plauf and the power-seeking Mrs. Eszter. The second thread concerns the inner worlds of the mystic Valuska and the pessimist Eszter. Though the situation of the town has been troubled for a while, the crisis, which brings remarkable changes for all the characters, happens on the day that a strange traveling show sets up in town, a show that has been obsessively followed around by a sinister crowd.

The way this book is written makes it far from easy reading. It is not realistic, it is symbol-laden, dense with philosophic discussion, and worded in long sentences. But I think that it richly rewards paying attention. For one thing, it has an interesting narrative, sometimes comic, sometimes frightening. For another, the insights gained can be quite beautiful; the centerpiece of it, in my opinion, is the section concerning Eszter's adjustment to a new view of the world.