The Man Booker International Prize was first awarded in 2005. From 2005 until 2015, it was awarded every two years to a living author of any nationality for their entire body of work either published in or translated into English. The author received £ 60,000 and could gift £ 15,000 to one of the translators of his work. In 2016, the award got an overhaul and since then it is awarded once a year to a single book that has been translated into English. The prize is now worth $ 50,000, split evenly between the author and translator.
I’ve announced the 6 nominees a while ago: you can reread that here. And just a few days ago, on the 22nd of May, the winner was announced: Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft.
She is the first Polish author to win the award. Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the judging panel, described her as a “writer of wonderful wit, imagination, and literary panache.” Quite a glowing review, right? Here’s what other judges had to say!
Do you want to know what to book is about? Well, it’s a compilation of anecdotes and short stories about travel. Here is the full blurb:
Flights is a series of imaginative and mesmerising meditations on travel in all its forms, not only the philosophy and meaning of travel, but also fascinating anecdotes that take us out of ourselves, and back to ourselves.
Olga Tokarczuk brilliantly connects travel with spellbinding anecdotes about anatomy, about life and death, about the very nature of humankind. Thrilling characters and stories abound: the Russian sect who escape the devil by remaining constantly in motion; the anatomist Verheyen who writes letters to his amputated leg; the story of Chopin’s heart as it makes its journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister’s skirt; the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teen but must now return in order to poison her terminally ill high-school sweetheart…
You will never read anything like this extraordinary, utterly original, mind-expanding book. Many consider Tokarczuk to be the most important Polish writer of her generation and Flights is one of those rare books that seems to conjure life itself out of the air.