|Author:||Olga Tokarczuk; Jennifer Croft (Translator)|
When something is at rest it is only conceptually differentiated from the physical continuum of its location, but when moving its differentiation is confirmed by the changes in its relations with the actual. Likewise, humans have in them a restlessness, a will to change, a fluidity of identity and belonging that Olga Tokarczuk in her fine and interesting book Flights would see as our essential vitality, an indicator of civilisation so far as it is acknowledged and encouraged, otherwise a casualty of repression or of fear. “Barbarians stay put, or go to destinations to raid them. They do not travel.” Flights is an encyclopedic sort-of-novel, a great compendium of stories, fragments, historical anecdotes, description and essays on every possible aspect of travel, in its literal and metaphorical senses, and on the stagnation, mummification and bodily degradation of stasis. The book bristles with ideas, memorable images and playful treatments, for instance when Tokarczuk reframes the world as an array of airports, to which cities and countries are but service satellites and through which the world’s population is constantly streaming, democratised by movement, no preparation either right or wrong in this zone of civilised indeterminacy. To create a border, to restrict a movement is to suppress life, to preserve a corpse. Tokarczuk’s fragments are of various registers and head in different directions, but several strands reappear through the book, such as the story of a father and young son searching for a mother who disappears on holiday on a small Croatian island. Historical imaginings include an account of the journey of Chopin’s heart from Paris to Poland following his death, the ‘biography’ of the ‘discoverer’ of the achilles tendon, and an account of the peripatetic sect constantly on the move to elude the Devil. For Tokarczuk, we find ourselves, if we find ourselves at all, somewhere in the interplay between impulse and constraint.
Winner, 2018 Man Booker International Prize
'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 Flightsis one of those rare books that seems to conjure life itself out of the air.
Olga Tokarczukis 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 Croftis 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
'An indisputable masterpiece.' Publishers Weekly (starred review)
'Flightsis a passionate and enchantingly discursive plea for meaningful connectedness, for the acceptance of "fluidity, mobility, illusoriness".' Guardian
'Tokarczuk has a quizzical and highly observant eye, seeking and recording, turning perversely towards the deformed, the monstrous and abject... This all makes for excellent and entertaining reading as we are privy to scenes and descriptions from which our first reaction would be to turn away.' Otago Daily Times
'Flightsis a fragmented, bursting-with-life novel...A lively and strange collection of portraits of unrelated characters, all in transit, woven together by the narrator's essayistic musings.' Australian
'Tokarczuk is one of Europe's most daring and original writers, and this astonishing performance is her glittering, bravura entry in the literature of ideas...Flightsis an international, mercurial, and always generous book, to be endlessly revisited. Like a glorious, charmingly impertinent travel companion, it reflects, challenges, and rewards.' Los Angeles Review of Books
Winner of 2018 THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE
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.