Book - 2018
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A visionary work of fiction by "A writer on the level of W. G. Sebald" (Annie Proulx)

"A magnificent writer." -- Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize-winning author of Secondhand Time

"A beautifully fragmented look at man's longing for permanence.... Ambitious and complex." -- Washington Post

From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin's heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller's answer.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2018.
Edition: First American edition.
ISBN: 9780525534198
Characteristics: 403 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm


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From Library Staff

Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk's book is unconventional in many ways. It is a series of brief, disconnected essays about the experience of travel interspersed with a few longer narratives, but Tokarczuk herself describes its structure as a "constellation novel." In her recent NYT intervie... Read More »

Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk's book is unconventional in many ways. It is a series of brief, disconnected essays about the experience of travel interspersed with a few longer narratives, but Tokarczuk herself describes its structure as a "constellation novel." In her recent NYT intervie... Read More »

From the critics

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May 06, 2020

This is a collection of musings, essays, short stories, and observations. Some of the entries are as short as two sentences and some as long as 30 pages. The order seems to be related to the travels of the author. The writings are interesting and well constructed.

Feb 03, 2020


Apr 07, 2019

This was a strange one. Based on the jacket copy, Olga Tokarczuk is Poland's greatest living writer. Who am I to argue? This is less a novel and more a kind of miscellany of facts, stories, tangents, travels, and body parts. Did I understand it? Not really, but I enjoyed it. Winner of the Man Booker International Prize.

Mar 29, 2019

May book

Mar 13, 2019

Collections of short stories, pastiche, essays, loosely (theme, figure, object, relic, icon, specimen, on the spur of location vs moment) correlated, peripatetic on pages with random insights.
Though delectable passages drew me in right away, several pages through I lost keenness, but bare measurements of circular motions with familiar accounts (e.g. life in Poland and Eastern Bloc) and occasional highlights (e.g. plastination & human anatomy, a Greek/Hellenic scholar on cruise perceived by his younger wife).

It may induce a different effect if I read it on a flight, or along with a real wandering trip.

Jan 19, 2019

If you wrote this for a graduate writing course, I bet you anything you'd get a failing grade. It's so different than what we are supposed to write, plot twists, protagonists, antagonists, form, structure, and well, plot. There are linked short stories and essays, but to me mostly there were like little notes a crazy person would write, if said crazy person was traveling and also into anatomy. The writing itself is rich and astounding, but after a few pages I kept forgetting what I was reading. In fact, I'd have to keep reading over and over again, not sure exactly what I was supposed to be taking away from it.

Eventually I skipped around, reading the essays and observation-like notes as if they were something I had found lying around in an airport, and skipped the rest. Because if you read something over and over, and yet can't understand what you read or can't remember it, eventually you give up.

And I did.

DPL_Graham Dec 18, 2018

“Flights” by Olga Tokarczuk is an ocean made up of stories. Endless waves of stories are sent sprawling onto the sand, each the same yet different. Imagine laying on the surf line as wave after wave crashes over you. Small waves that barely cover your feet, large waves that wash over you and attempt to pull you into the sea, and waves that leave stinging jellyfish on your chest. Maybe “Flights” is an airport hub with thousands of travelers and planes all with a story, all converging together yet alone for a brief moment before separating out into life. No, perhaps “Flights” is a kaleidoscope of human body parts. Looking through the small end you see limbs twisting and turning, lungs and hearts intermingled, a system of cells interlinked within cells interlinked within one stem.

The wonderful piece of Polish literature, flawlessly translated by Jennifer Croft, is crafted from 116 stories. Some tales are several sentences, some a few paragraphs, some pushing on for pages, but all are intriguing and all somehow connected yet without connection. Themes continuously re-appear: travel, ruined vacations, hotel rooms, the human body, the human body dissected for museums, relationships disconnected, lectures, and transit hubs. Read this book without forcing connections between the stories and let them wash over you like the aforementioned sea. The meanings will come, the stories will somehow come together and maybe, miraculously, the story you care the most about will have a second part hidden at the end of the book, joyfully appearing out of the text.

"Flights" sparkles with wit, storytelling, and atmosphere. Lose yourself into a Tokarczuk’s flights of fancy, you won’t be disappointed.

**Flights is the Man Booker International Prize Winner for 2018


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