Flights

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Flights by Olga Tokarchuk

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

Flights is a series of imaginative and mesmerising meditations on travel in all its forms, not only the philosophy and meaning of travel, but also fascinating anecdotes that take us out of ourselves, and back to ourselves.

Olga Tokarczuk brilliantly connects travel with spellbinding anecdotes about anatomy, about life and death, about the very nature of humankind. Thrilling characters and stories abound: the Russian sect who escape the devil by remaining constantly in motion; the anatomist Verheyen who writes letters to his amputated leg; the story of Chopin’s heart as it makes its journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister’s skirt; the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teen but must now return in order to poison her terminally ill high-school sweetheart…

You will never read anything like this extraordinary, utterly original, mind-expanding book. Many consider Tokarczuk to be the most important Polish writer of her generation and Flights is one of those rare books that seems to conjure life itself out of the air. Olga Tokarczuk is one of Poland’s best and most beloved authors. In 2015 she received the Brueckepreis and the prestigious annual literary award from Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well as Poland’s highest literary honor, the Nike, and the Nike Readers’ Prize. Tokarczuk also received a Nike in 2009 for Flights. She is the author of eight novels and two short story collections, and has been translated into a dozen languages. Jennifer Croft is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN, MacDowell and National Endowment for the Arts grants and fellowships, as well as the Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa.

‘A magnificent writer.’ Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate 2015

‘Tokarczuk examines questions of travel in our increasingly interconnected and fast-moving world… Trained as a psychologist, Tokarczuk is interested in what connects the human soul and body. It is a leitmotif that, despite the apparent lack of a single plot, tightly weaves the text’s different strands—of fiction, memoir and essay—into a whole.’ Spectator

‘Reading Flights is like finally hearing from a weird old best friend you lost touch with years ago and assumed was gone forever because people that amazing and inventive just don`t last. Wrong—they were off rediscovering the world on your behalf, just as Olga Tokarczuk does.’ Toby Litt, author of Hospital

‘I have always considered her a person of great literary abilities. With Flights I have my proof. This is one of the most important Polish books I have read for years.’ Jerzy Sosnowski

‘A novel in essays, a world-exploration in words, a soaring journey across space and through time.’ Nicolas Rothwell

319 pages, published in
Olga Tokarchuk (born in 1964) is primarily a writer, although she made her debut with a collection of poems. Her first novel, The Journey of the People of the Book (1993), aroused a keen interest in critics, and the following works confirmed her writing talent. Tokarczuk`s latest novel - "Day House, Night House" (1998) - introduces the reader to the world of the "small homeland", which only in a sense occupies a strictly defined place on the map. In fact, we are talking about "no man`s land", on which the experience of its next inhabitants is being layered - the former, forced to leave it in the course of historical events, and new ones, who see in the fate of their predecessors, turning to them themselves. Light and shadow are two elements that initially constitute the basic matter of this writing, in which the rational fights against the irrational, everyday life with myth, and the explicitness of experience with its secret meaning. Tokarczuk does not give final answers; the world of the possible becomes for her an integral complement to reality. In the tension between the understandable and the incomprehensible, human life unfolds, which always presents a challenge, never fits into ready-made schemes and stereotypes and constantly requires new interpretations, including artistic ones.
Olga Tokarchuk

A book by Olga Tokarchuk

Olga Tokarchuk (born in 1964) is primarily a writer, although she made her debut with a collection of poems. Her first novel, The Journey of the People of the Book (1993), aroused a keen interest in critics, and the following works confirmed her writing talent. Tokarczuk`s latest novel - "Day House, Night House" (1998) - introduces the reader to the world of the "small homeland", which only in a sense occupies a strictly defined place on the map. In fact, we are talking about "no man`s land", on which the experience of its next inhabitants is being layered - the former, forced to leave it in the course of historical events, and new ones, who see in the fate of their predecessors, turning to them themselves. Light and shadow are two elements that initially constitute the basic matter of this writing, in which the rational fights against the irrational, everyday life with myth, and the explicitness of experience with its secret meaning. Tokarczuk does not give final answers; the world of the possible becomes for her an integral complement to reality. In the tension between the understandable and the incomprehensible, human life unfolds, which always presents a challenge, never fits into ready-made schemes and stereotypes and constantly requires new interpretations, including artistic ones.

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