Olga Tokarczuk wins the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018

Olga Tokarczuk at a book fair.

Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk just became the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018. Two awards were announced this year after last year’s awards were suspended due to the academy’s internal affairs. The second winner of the prize for 2019 is Austrian author and playwright Peter Handke. The Swedish Academy recently said its award would be less “male-oriented” and “Eurocentric”. With this win, Tokarczuk is the 15th woman to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, compared to 114 men.

Last year, Olga Tokarczuk and her translator Jennifer Croft won the Man Booker International Prize for Tokarczuk’s novel Flights. She was the first Polish writer in history to win this prize. Tokarczuk, who was born in Sulechów in 1962 and graduated from the University of Warsaw with a degree in psychology, describes her writing as “constellation novels” because of her tendency to present the stories in a way that allows readers to find their own interpretation from the content. A recipient of many other literary awards, a few of her notable achievements include the Nike literary award in 2008 (as well as being a four-time nominee) and the Uznamska Literary Award in 2012. Her books have been translated into over 15 languages worldwide.

The Guardian quoted Tokarczuk’s opinion on the difference between the literature of Western and Central Europe: “Reading English novels I always adore the ability to write without fear about inner psychological things that are so delicate. In such a form you can develop a story in a very linear way, but we don’t have this patience. We feel that in every moment something must be wrong because our own story wasn’t linear.” The novelist’s books bring a historical quality of Poland to life while delicately weaving images of ancient religion and culture into each new plot she writes.

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