The Man-Booker prize, which rewards fiction in English, was awarded to the Polish Olga Tokarczuk for “Les Pérégrins”.
Polish Olga Tokarczuk won the Man-Booker International Prize, which rewards writers of fiction in English, for her book “The Peregrins” on Tuesday.
The jury highlighted the “imagination” and “literary panache” of Tokarczuk, whose work has been translated into English by Jennifer Croft. Author and translator therefore share the 50,000 pounds sterling (57,000 euros, 67,000 dollars) of the prize for a book released in 2010 for its French version.
“Les Pérégrins” (“Flights” in English) is a travel diary gathered in a myriad of short texts to compose a colorful panorama of nomadism, where the journey of the heart of Frédéric Chopin between Warsaw and 19th-century Paris rubs shoulders with the peregrinations of a 17th century Flemish surgeon, Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew his own amputated leg.
Considered the most gifted novelist of her generation in Poland, Olga Tokarczuk is, at 56, the author of a dozen books, translated into more than 25 languages and brought on stage or on screen.
A poetic universe
Tokarczuk displays an extremely varied work, which ranges from a philosophical tale, “The Green Children” (2016), to an ecological, committed and metaphysical detective novel “On the bones of the dead” (2010), passing by a historical novel of 900 pages, “The Books of Jacob” (2014).
“Olga is a mystic in perpetual search for truth, truth that can only be reached in movement, by transgressing borders. All fixed forms, institutions and languages are death,” one of her friends, Kinga Dunin, also a writer and literary critic, told AFP.
In his poetic universe, the rational mixes with the irrational. His world is in perpetual motion, without a fixed point, with characters whose biographies and characters intertwine and, like a giant puzzle, create a splendid overall picture. All described in a language that is at once rich, precise and poetic, attentive to detail.
She is the winner of numerous Polish and international prizes including, twice, the most prestigious Polish literary prize, Nike. Five times, she won the readers’ prize in this competition, including one for her latest work, “The Books of Jacob”, which traces the little-known history of the Frankists, a Jewish messianic sect having absorbed Christian elements, born in Poland in the second half of the 18th century.
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