Olga Tokarczuk wins Man Booker International Prize 2018
22 May 2018
- First Polish winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Tokarczuk is one of the country’s most important writers
- Flights is a meditation on arrivals, departures and impermanence
Flights, translated by Jennifer Croft and published by Fitzcarraldo Editions, is today, Tuesday 22 May, announced as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2018. The £50,000 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, has been divided equally between its author and translator. They have also both received a further £1,000 for being shortlisted.
Olga Tokarczuk is a multiple award winner and bestseller in Poland whose work is now gaining recognition in the English-speaking world. She trained as a psychologist at the University of Warsaw, and her interest in Jung continues to influence her work. Her first book, a collection of poems, was published in 1989. She is the author of eight novels and two short-story collections. Alongside her writing she co-hosts a boutique literary festival near her home in Lower Silesia in southern Poland.
Jennifer Croft translates from Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian, having studied for an MFA in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa and lived in Argentina and Poland. Now resident in Los Angeles, she is a founding editor of the Buenos Aires Review.
Flights is a novel of linked fragments, from the 17th century to the present day, connected by themes of travel and human anatomy.
The Financial Times called Flights ‘A philosophical tale for our frantic times’. Adam Mars-Jones wrote of it in the London Review of Books: ‘Flights could almost be an inventory of the ways narrative can serve a writer short of, and beyond, telling a story. The book’s prose is a lucid medium in which narrative crystals grow to an ideal size, independent structures not disturbing the balance of the whole.’
The winner is announced by Lisa Appignanesi OBE at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
It was selected from 108 submissions by a panel of five judges, chaired by Lisa Appignanesi OBE, author and cultural commentator, and consisting of: Michael Hofmann, poet, reviewer and translator from German; Hari Kunzru, author of five novels including The Impressionist and White Tears; Tim Martin, journalist and literary critic, and Helen Oyeyemi, author of novels, plays and short stories including The Icarus Girl.
Lisa Appignanesi comments:
‘Our deliberations were hardly easy, since our shortlist was such a strong one. But I’m very pleased to say that we decided on the great Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk as our winner: Tokarczuk is a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache. In Flights, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, by a series of startling juxtapositions she flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament – where only plastic escapes mortality.’
Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:
‘Along with my colleagues at Man Group, I would like to congratulate Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft, as well as each of the shortlisted authors and translators. As a firm, we welcome and encourage diversity and difference across our business. The Man Booker International Prize plays an important role in celebrating extraordinary fiction in translation, and we are proud to support the prize as it continues to bring the breadth and depth of global literary talent to the attention of readers worldwide.’
The Man Booker International Prize and the Man Booker Prize for Fiction together reward the best books from around the globe that are published in the UK and are available in English.
The prize is sponsored by Man Group, an active investment management firm that also sponsors the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest in contemporary literature.
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