Polish Novelist Olga Tokarczuk Wins Man Booker Prize International

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Winner of The Man Booker prize 2018 Announced

Winner of The Man Booker Prize International has been announced as Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk for her sixth novel Flights, translated by Jennifer Croft and published by Fitzcarraldo Editions. The award is given to the best work of translated fiction from anywhere in the world.


Described by The Bookseller as “probably one of the greatest living writers you have never heard of” Olga Tokarczuk fought off stiff competition from two previous winners, – South Korea’s Han Kang who won in 2016 with The Vegetarian and Hungary’s László Krasznahorkai in 2015. Olga Tokarczuk is a multiple award winner and bestseller in Poland whose work is finally gaining recognition in the English-speaking world after first being published in 1989.


Flights by Olga Tokarczuk


Flights is a novel of linked fragments, from the 17th century to the present day, connected by themes of travel and human anatomy. Below is
the description from Fetzcarraldo Editions:


Flights is a novel about travel in the 21st century and human anatomy. From the 17th  century, we have the story of the real Dutch
anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg, discovering in so doing the Achilles tendon. From the 18th century, we have the story of a North African-born slave turned Austrian courtier stuffed and put on display after his death in spite of his daughter’s ever more desperate protests, as well as the story of Chopin’s heart as it makes the covert journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister’s skirt. From the present we have the trials and tribulations of a wife accompanying her much older professor husband as he teaches a course on a cruise ship in the Greek islands, the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teenager but must now return to Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high-school sweetheart, and the slow descent into madness of a young husband whose wife and child mysteriously vanished on a vacation on a Croatian island and then appeared again with no explanation.


Adam Mars-Jones wrote of it in the London Review of Books:
‘Flights could almost be an inventory of the ways narrative can serve a writer short of, and beyond, telling a story. The book’s prose is a lucid
medium in which narrative crystals grow to an ideal size, independent structures not disturbing the balance of the whole.’


Judge and author Lisa Appignanesi OBE comments:

‘Our deliberations were hardly easy, since our shortlist was such a strong one. But I’m very pleased to say that we decided on the great Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk as our winner: Tokarczuk is a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache. In Flights, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, by a series of startling juxtapositions she flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament – where only plastic escapes mortality.’


Congratulations to Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft and Fitzcarraldo Editions.


If you enjoyed this check out my review of The Only Story by Man Booker prize winner Julian Barnes.



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