Flights by Olga Tokarczuk

Staff Pick

Olga Tokarczuk’s wunderkammer of a novel is structured by themes rather than plotlines, and in place of character development, she builds collections. There are collections of travelers: nomads, pilgrims, tourists, the homeless; of places, from Poland to Iceland to Greece; of bodies—the vehicles we travel in—and of body parts, both the sacred ones of saints’ relics and the scientific exhibits of anatomical museums; of ideas; of stories. Flights (Riverhead, $26) is a constant surprise, moving from history (the Netherlands of 1542 and 1689, Chopin’s funeral, a timeless Sultan in an infinite desert) to a present of airports, metros, and those ubiquitous synthetic wanderers, plastic bags; from fables to myths to stories within stories. “Am I doing the right thing by telling stories?” Tokarczuk asks, and as if expressing her own ambivalence about her medium, she completes some tales, serializes others, and leaves others incomplete, though even open-ended—or especially then—these narratives support her belief that “what makes us most human is the possession of a unique and irreproducible story,” all the better to defeat the tyrants who want “to create a frozen order…to pin down the world with the aid of bar codes.”

Flights: Nobel Prize and Booker Prize Winner By Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft (Translated by) Cover Image
By Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780525534198
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - August 14th, 2018