Flights is a fascinating, genre-defying set of linked fragments that travel from the 17th century to the present day, connected by themes of travel and human anatomy: A seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist discovers the Achilles tendon by dissecting his own amputated leg. 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.
In a statement by the Man Booker Prize committee, Lisa Appignanesi, who led the judging panel, said: ‘Our deliberations were hardly easy, since our shortlist was such a strong one. But I’m very pleased to say that we decided on the great Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk as our winner: Tokarczuk is a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache. In Flights, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, by a series of startling juxtapositions she flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament – where only plastic escapes mortality.’
Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft will share the £50,000 prize. If you would like to experience the wonder of Flights—and Croft’s incredible translation–come by and talk to our friendly reference staff soon!