Flights (Pen­guin), by Olga Tokar­czuk, trans­lated by Jen­nifer Croft

Paradise - - Living | Books - BY GREG CLARKE

Pol­ish author Olga Tokar­czuk has been awarded Poland’s high­est lit­er­ary hon­our (the Nike) and this book, her eighth, is a se­ries of med­i­ta­tions on travel. Flights won the Man Booker In­ter­na­tional Prize (2018). The phi­los­o­phy and mean­ing of travel, anec­dotes that take us out of our­selves, and back to our­selves, may be an ex­pected part of Flights, but Tokar­czuk also con­nects travel with anec­dotes about anatomy, about life and death, about the very na­ture of hu­mankind. Al­most un­be­liev­able char­ac­ters and sto­ries abound, in­clud­ing the Rus­sian sect that es­capes the devil by re­main­ing con­stantly in mo­tion; the anatomist Ver­heyen who writes letters to his am­pu­tated leg; the jour­ney of Chopin’s heart from Paris to War­saw; and the quest of a Pol­ish woman to poi­son her ter­mi­nally ill high-school sweet­heart.

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