Olga Tokarczuk Wins Nobel Prize for Literature
#language & literature
small, Olga Tokarczuk, fot. Krzysztof Dubiel/Instytut Książki, center, tokarczuk_0.jpg
On 10th October 2019, Polish author Olga Tokarczuk was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2018 by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. This is the second year in a row that Tokarczuk has won a major literary award – in 2018, she and her translator Jennifer Croft won the Man Booker International Prize for 'Flights'.
Olga Tokarczuk is one of the most critically acclaimed and most translated Polish writers, with House of Day, House of Night and Primeval and Other Tales being her greatest commercial and critical successes. She lives and works in Wałbrzych in Lower Silesia. An outstanding writer, essayist and a devotee of Jung, she is considered an authority on philosophy and arcane knowledge. Undeniably a great discovery for Polish literature in the 1990s, she continues to be a phenomenon hugely admired by critics and readers alike. Her new award as a Nobel Prize laureate was announced at the same time as the 2019 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Austrian writer Peter Handke.
Tokarczuk has won numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious Polish awards the Polityka Passport and the Nike Literary Award, as well as the Vilenica International Literary Prize. Her book Drive Your Plough Through the Bones of the Dead was the basis of Agnieszka Holland's award-winning movie Spoor. Most notably, she is the first Polish writer to win the Man Booker International Prize – for her novel Flights translated by Jennifer Croft.
Her reputation with international audiences was further cemented in 2019 with the English-language publication of Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Set in a small village in south-western Poland, this moral thriller is about a sixty-something school teacher, with a passion for astrology, an immense love for animals and the poetry of William Blake, who investigates the sudden disappearance of her two dogs. Soon after, when members of the local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation.
By no means a conventional crime story, this existential thriller by 'one of Europe's major humanist writers' (according to The Guardian) offers thought-provoking ideas on our perceptions of madness, injustice against marginalised people, animal rights, the hypocrisy of traditional religion, and belief in predestination. The book was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2019, as well as the National Book Award for Translated Literature.
Tokarczuk is not the first person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for writing in the Polish language. Famed for his historical epics, Henryk Sienkiewicz was awarded the prize in 1905, while Władysław Reymont won the prize in 1924, most often recognised for his huge four-part saga The Peasants. Czesław Miłosz won the prize in 1980, while most recently was Wisława Szymborska, who won in 1996.
man booker international prize
nobel prize for literature
polish nobel prize laureates
The Nobel Prize for Literature will be awarded to Olga Tokarczuk in person at Stockholm Concert Hall in Sweden during the Nobel Prize award ceremony on 10th December 2019.
Source: press materials, compiled by NR & AZ, Oct 2019