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The Books of Jacob
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About the Author

Olga Tokarczuk is the author of nine novels, three short story collections and has been translated into forty-five languages. Her novel Flights won the 2018 International Booker Prize, in Jennifer Croft's translation. In 2019, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Reviews

'A magnificent writer.'
- Svetlana Alexievich, 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate


'A writer on the level of W. G. Sebald.'
- Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News


'[A] visionary novel ... Tokarczuk is wrestling with the biggest philosophical themes: the purpose of life on earth, the nature of religion, the possibility of redemption, the fraught and terrible history of eastern European Jewry. With its formidable insistence on rendering an alien world with as much detail as possible, the novel reminded me at times of Paradise Lost. The vividness with which it's done is amazing. At a micro-level, she sees things with a poetic freshness.... The Books of Jacob, which is so demanding and yet has so much to say about the issues that rack our times, will be a landmark in the life of any reader with the appetite to tackle it.'
- Marcel Theroux, Guardian


'"The Books of Jacob" is an unruly, overwhelming, vastly eccentric novel. It's sophisticated and ribald and brimming with folk wit. It treats everything it bumps into at both face value and ad absurdum. It's Chaucerian in its brio...This novel's density is saturnalian; its satire nimble; academics will tug at its themes, as if they were pinworms, for decades.'
- Dwight Garner, New York Times


'Tokarczuk shows impressive skill in recreating an entire era and world, which ranges from Poland to Smyrna and Vienna. Yet her real genius lies in the cast of characters she has conjured up; dozens, each fully realised, from an emperor downwards.... She is also ambitious in her willingness to ask (and sometimes answer) extraordinarily large questions through these character studies.... Holding it all together for 900 pages is incredible, but that is not what makes this book great. Tokarczuk, unafraid and ambitious, creates a very fallible messiah, yet makes it seem reasonable and human to believe in his divinity. That is a kind of literary miracle.'
- Antonia Senior, The Times


'In Tokarczuk's telling this epic of myth and history is a celebration of cultural diversity, a plea for tolerance and - notwithstanding its impeccably researched historical setting - a contemporary story of borders, refugees and migration. Despite the novel's great length, the world she has recreated is wrenching to leave.... Huge credit must be given to Croft, whose magnificent, lively translation is also a work of pure scholarship: the multiple voices, styles, landscapes and inventories she renders into English bring this lost world vividly to life.... As a reading experience, aspects of Tolstoy's War and Peace are an obvious comparison; but so too is The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald's epic in miniature of German Romanticism, and Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy: all immersive works in which the act of turning the pages is akin to surrender.'
- Catherine Taylor, Prospect

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