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A brief summary for those of you who haven’t read the Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 winner’s books ...
2019-10-10 14:15:00
Olga Tokarczuk’s Books in a Nutshell

A summary of Olga Tokarczuk’s books for those who haven’t read them until the very end.

Podróż ludzi księgi [The Journey of the Book-People]

Tokarczuk’s debut. The Book-People travel.

E. E. [E.E.]

A bit like Stranger Things, only that the action is set a long time ago in Wrocław. One girl is a medium. She might be just faking it, though.

Primeval and Other Times

Primeval is not an era, it’s a village. Tokarczuk writes a lot about death. There are also side plots, though.

Szafa [The Wardrobe]

Short stories. There is one about a maid in a hotel. (Why write about maids when you could write about King Bolesław I the Brave or the Battle of Cedynia? Is this still Polish literature?).

House of Day, House of Night 

A lot of strange stuff happening in the mountains. Someone has a dream, somebody dies. There is also a woman with a beard and a recipe on how to prepare poisonous mushrooms.

Lalka i perła [The Doll and the Pearl]

Tokarczuk writes about The Doll by Bolesław Prus’ (which is also a fairly long novel) and adds a little bit about Carl Jung, as if the young aristocrat Izabela Łęcka was an archetype.

Gra na wielu bębenkach [Playing on Many Drums]

Short stories. As if Tokarczuk didn’t have enough of it with this woman with a beard in House of Day, House of Night, now she introduces a man who breastfeeds.

Ostatnie historie [The Last Stories]

About women and death.

Anna In w grobowcach świata [Anna In in the Tombs of the World]

Another book about women and death. A Sumerian goddess goes to hell, then wants to get out but she can’t. Her friend helps her. We don’t know if the action takes place in Sumer or in some kind of a city in the future.

Flights

A long book with short chapters. It’s all about travelling.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

A crime story with animals in it. At first it seems that the animals are the killers, but then you realize this isn’t necessarily the case.

The Books of Jacob

A book about Jacob Frank, the Messianic leader of a mysterious 18th-century Jewish splinter group. We don’t really know whether he was a mystic or a fraud. Apart from him, there are 370 other characters in the book, most of whom appear there episodically.

Opowiadania bizarne [Bizarre Stories]

Short stories. Some are from the future, some are from the past. There is even one about androids.

***

If we’ve whetted your appetite to digest some of Olga Tokarczuk’s books from start to finish, you can find the following ones translated into English:

House of Day, House of Night (2002). Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. London: Granta.

Primeval and Other Times (2010). Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Prague: Twisted Spoon Press.

Flights (2017). Translated by Jennifer Croft. London: Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (2018). Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. London: Fitzcarraldo Editions.

 

Published:

Grzegorz Uzdański

Grzegorz Uzdański

was born in 1979. He taught Philosophy and Ethics at the Raszyńska secondary school in Warsaw, and is the author of the website “Nowe wiersze sławnych poetów” [New Poetry from Famous Poets] and of the novel “Wakacje” [Holiday]. He sings and writes lyrics for the band Ryby. He has also written lyrics for the bands EXTRA and Jerz Igor. He performs in the theatre improv group Dobrze and in the comedy trio Wszystko Będzie Dobrze [Everything’s Gonna Be Alright]. He lives in Warsaw.