Olga Tokarczuk's novel, "Primeval and Other Times" is in the limelight for a discussion of the European Book Club, a monthly series of book discussions organised by ten European cultural institutes and consulates in New York. The novel, first published in Poland in 1996, was recently published in English.
Olga Tokarczuk's Primeval and Other Times, first published in Poland in 1996, is already regarded as a classic of East European post-Communist fiction, winning many prizes and becoming compulsory reading for high school students in Poland.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the Polish literary market was flooded with previously censored works and translations of formerly forbidden literature from the US and Western Europe, and writers no longer had the Communist regime to push against, Tokarczuk represented a genuinely fresh current in Polish literature, taking a self-consciously woman-centered perspective and moving away from the old politics to consider the relation between cultural archetypes and the events of history. Young Poles in the 1990s read Tokarczuk eagerly in the way that Americans read novelists like Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Márquez during the previous decade.
[Primeval and Other Times] recounts the hard passage of an imaginary village through a century of conflict, distant coups and decay. Centre-stage, however, are the village's colourful characters: an aristocrat who withdraws from life to play a rabbi's fantastical board game promising answers to life's great questions; a dog-loving madwoman pursued by the moon; a Soviet soldier who seeks sexual relief among forest beasts; a priest who wishes to tame a frog-infested river. Overlooking all is a vain selfish God who has become thoroughly bored with mankind and who must play second fiddle in Ms Tokarczuk's pantheistic world to material things: a sprawling mushroom root which links all matter together or a wooden coffee-grinder with which a young girl mills out time.
- The Economist
The McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan's SoHo district, which hosted a reading with Olga Tokarczuk and other authors during the November 2010 New Literature from Europe festival, will be the official bookseller for this meeting. Participants are welcome to acquire the book from their favorite source for books or from the library, but McNally Jackson will be ordering extra copies to keep in stock for the meeting.
The discussion of Tokarczuk's Primeval and Other Times is to be moderated by David A. Goldfarb, Curator of Literature and Humanities at the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.
Primeval and Other Times translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, was published by Twisted Spoon.
The meeting has been made possible with support from the New York Institute for the Humanities and Polish Cultural Institute in New York.
- New York Institute for the Humanities
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor
New York, NY