Poland's Olga Tokarczuk wins Nobel Prize for Literature

2019-10-10 13:56 update: 2019-10-14, 11:09
Olga Tokarczuk. Photo PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk
Olga Tokarczuk. Photo PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk
Polish novelist, poet and essayist Olga Tokarczuk has won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy announced on Thursday. Tokarczuk is the 15th woman to receive the literature prize. She also holds the 2018 Man Booker International Prize.

It is the first Nobel Prize for Literature to be won by a Polish writer for 23 years and the fifth in all. Previously, Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska received the distinction in 1996. Earlier, the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Polish writers Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1905 and Wladyslaw Reymont in 1924, and to poet, prose writer and translator Czeslaw Milosz in 1980.

The Swedish Academy said Tokarczuk had won the prize for "a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life."

Tokarczuk's main works include 'The Journey of the Book-People,' 'Primeval and Other Times,' 'Playing on Many Drums,' 'Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead,' 'The Books of Jacob,' and 'Flights,' for which she won the Man Booker International Prize. 

Nike, Poland's top literary prize, was awarded to Tokarczuk in 2008 for 'Flights' and in 2015 for 'The Book of Jacob.'

Tokarczuk was born in 1962 to a teachers' family. Having graduated from the psychology department of Warsaw University, she worked for several years as a therapist. She is the author of 17 books, including novels, novellas, essays and screenplays. Tokarczuk's first book was published in 1989, it was a collection of poems entitled Miasta w lustrach ("Cities in Mirrors").

Tokarczuk is one of Poland's best-known authors, with a fast-growing reputation in the English-speaking world.

Poland's top state officials congratulated Olga Tokarczuk for winning the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature.

President Andrzej Duda called it a "great day for Polish literature" on Twitter and said: "Another Polish writer, after the poet Wislawa Szymborska, receives the literary Nobel Prize. Bravo!"

PM Mateusz Morawiecki congratulated the prize winner and said it was a piece of great news. He also stressed he was glad that Polish literature was so highly held in the entire world.

Deputy PM and Culture Minister Piotr Glinski underlined that the prize for Tokarczuk was proof that Polish culture was highly valued in the entire world. He tweeted his congratulations to her and said he now felt obliged to go back and read her books all the way through.

Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian writer Peter Handke won the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes for literature on Thursday, a rare double announcement that came after no prize was announced last year. (PAP)

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