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"Flights" by Olga Tokarczuk
"Flights" by Olga Tokarczuk
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* Polish Author Olga Tokarczuk: 2019 Recipient of the NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE*

2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE
WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2018 BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, THE WASHINGTON POST, BOSTON GLOBE, LITHUB AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 WARWICK PRIZE FOR WOMEN IN TRANSLATION

A visionary work of fiction by "A writer on the level of W. G. Sebald" (Annie Proulx)

"A magnificent writer." --Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize-winning author of Secondhand Time

"A beautifully fragmented look at man's longing for permanence.... Ambitious and complex." --Washington Post

        From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin's heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller's answer.​
Here I am enjoying "Flights" by Olga Tokarczuk during The Blizzard of 2019.
Flights, Memory, Emigration: Polish Writing Now
A Panel Discussion with Olga Tokarczuk. Also on the panel: Sean Bye, Polish Cultural Institute New York, and Jakub Czernik, Jagiellonian University, Poland.

Friday, September 28, 2018
7:30 p.m.
Sloan Auditorium, Goergen Hall, UR River Campus

Speaker
This event is co-presented by the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies, Open Letters Books, and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Free and open to the public. Parking on designated University lots is free after 7 p.m.

About the Speaker
Olga Tokarczuk is one of Poland's most celebrated and beloved authors, a winner of the Man Booker International Prize, as well as her country's highest literary honor, the Nike. She trained as a psychologist at the University of Warsaw, and her interest in Jung continues to influence her work. Her first book, a collection of poems, was published in 1989. She is the author of eight novels and two short story collections, and has been translated into a dozen languages. Critics have compared Tokarczuk’s nonlinear novels and short stories, which are often punctuated by mysterious maps and diagrams, to the work of celebrated European authors like W.G. Sebald and Milan Kundera.

"One among a very few signal European novelists of the past quarter-century." -- The Economist

"A household name in Poland and one of Europe's major humanist writers" -- The Guardian

First published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in the UK last spring in translation by Jennifer Croft, Olga Tokarczuk’s intoxicating novel Flights (Bieguni) is now out in the United States from Riverhead. It has taken critics, booksellers, and readers alike by storm. The London Magazine pegged the book as “a brilliant, experimental tour de force” and praised its “liquid, mellifluous prose.” Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexieivich called Tokarczuk “a magnificent writer.” Exquisitely translated by the award-winning novelist Jennifer Croft, Flights delves into the mystery and wonder intrinsic to the human experience. It is made up of 116 vignettes — both fiction and nonfiction — ranging from a Polish man’s desperate search for his wife and child after they disappear during a vacation in Croatia, to a historical account of Chopin’s heart being smuggled into Warsaw beneath his sister’s skirt. In May, Tokarczuk and Croft won the Man Booker International Prize for Flights, making it the first Polish novel to win the world's leading prize for books in English-language translation.

 "Flights" is the first Polish novel to win the world's leading prize for books in English-language translation.
I won’t hide the fact that I regard Olga Tokarczuk as the greatest writer working in my native language today.

Nor am I alone in my admiration: at last the world is starting to appreciate the greatness of her writing. Last year she won the Man Booker International award for her novel Flights, the Prix Michalski for The Books of Jacob, the recently published English translation of her novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead has been longlisted for the National Book Award, and its film adaptation, Spoor, directed by Agnieszka Holland, won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. More and more translations are appearing on bestseller lists around the world, as well as being listed for and winning prizes in Great Britain, Sweden, and the United States. - Jacek Dehnel 
Henryk Sienkiewicz has been my favorite author since I read "Quo Vadis" in the early eighties. I believe I have read everything he ever wrote--some more than once--including his short stories. I am a huge fan. 

These are the four books by Olka Tokarczuk I have read so far. It is true her style is very avant garde and much different than that of my favorite author. Her works are a patchwork of personal experiences 
and seemingly unrelated vignettes, reminding me of the lyrics of Bob Dylan or the poetry of Verlaine of Rimbaud... far out stuff, but interesting.

I have heard she is sometimes characterized as "anti-Sienkiewicz" and I wonder why. This is what some in Polnd are saying about her works:

In 2015, Tokarczuk was criticized by the Nowa Ruda Patriots association, who demanded that the town's council revoke the writer's honorary citizenship of Nowa Ruda because, as the association claimed, she had tarnished the good name of the Polish nation. The association's postulate was supported by Senator Waldemar Bonkowski of the Law and Justice Party, according to whom Tokarczuk's literary output and public statements are in "absolute contradiction to the assumptions of the Polish historical politics". Tokarczuk asserted that she is the true patriot, not the people and groups who criticize her, and whose alleged xenophobic and racist attitudes and actions are harmful to Poland and to Poland's image abroad. -Wiki

I plan on reading Księgi Jakubowe ("The Books of Jacob") as soon as it becomes available in English later this year. Its historical setting is 18th century Poland and eastern-central Europe and it deals with an important episode in Jewish history. Maybe then I will understand what this is all about.