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Audible BieguniAuthor Olga Tokarczuk – Blockdiagramwiring.co

Am I doing the right thing be telling stories Wouldn t it be better to fasten the mind with a clip, tighten the reins and express myself not by means of stories and histories, but with the simplicity of a lecture, where in sentence after sentence a single though gets clarified, and then others are tacked onto it in the succeeding paragraphs I could use quotes and foot notes I would be the mistress of my own text As it is I m taking on the role of midwife, or of the tender of a garden whose only merit is at best sowing seeds and later to fight tediously against weeds Tales have a kind of inherent inertia that is impossible to fully control They require people like me insecure, indecisive, easily led astray This book is published by one of the leading UK small presses, Fitzcarraldo Editions an independent publisher their words specialising in contemporary fiction and long form essays it focuses on ambitious, imaginative and innovative writing, both in translation and in the English language Their novels are my words distinctively and beautifully styled, with plain, deep blue covers and a French flap style They are also my experience typically complex, lengthy and dense and as a result admirable and worth than truly enjoyable.This book a translation from the Polish by Jennifer Croft and so smoothly translated that it reads like a book originally written in English is the winner of the 2018 Man Booker International prize Overall this book is difficult to categorise its effectively a mediation on transitions particularly modern travel but also on fluidity and mobility, but with some lengthy historical diversions typically relating to anatomical themes the human body and the historical parallels between mapping the complexities of the body and mapping the world is a key theme and with some even lengthy fictional tales These include a series of stories about a man Kunicki whose wife and children temporarily leave him on a small Croatian Island they are visiting on holiday as well as the story which gives the book its English title about the Russian mother who on an impulse flees her disabled son and war veteran husband to live a life as a drifting vagrant on the Moscow metro inspired by a member of a movement fetishing sect which gives the book its original, Polish title.The book has interesting parallels with many other books, the number of parallels showing how wide ranging the author s meditations travel from their centre itself of course an embedded metaphor For example the narrator s early experiences of the River Oder which seemingly plant in her the idea of travel versus stasis are very reminiscent of passages in Esther Kinsky s River by the same publisher Also early on the narrator whose voice largely disappears for much of the book talks about her studies in a passage I studied psychology in a big gloomy communist city that part of the city had been built up on the ruins of the ghetto, which you could tell if you took a good look that whole neighbourhood stood about three feet higher than the rest of the town Three feet of rubbleWhich reminded me of Han Kang s The White Book also longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International , a book written in Warsaw and whose central conceit is that the narrator s live is somehow built on the broken pediment of the life her sister would have lived, had she not perished as a very young child, in the same ways Warsaw is built on the ruin of its former self The frequent visits to and obsession with anatomical museums the back of the book includes a list of those visited is very reminiscent of Jessie Greengrass s Sight A Novel longlisted for the 20918 Women s Prize.A very interesting angle I found was in a discussion on how the concept of linear time is associated with the move from a traditional agricultural to a mercantile economy Sedentary peoples, farmers, prefer the pleasures of circular time, in which every object and event must return to its own beginning, curl back up into an embryo and repeat the process of maturation and death But nomads and merchants, as they set off on journeys, had to think up a different type of time for themselves, one that would better respond to the needs of their travels That time is linear time, practical because it was able to measure progress towards a goal, a destination And yet the innovation is a profoundly bitter one when change over time is irreversible, loss and mourning become daily things Interesting to me because my book of 2017, Jon McGregor s 2018 Reservoir 13, explicitly looks to reinsert the concept of circular time into literature by examining how quotidian dramas play out against the rhythmic seasons of village life and the natural world, while time continues to pass incessantly.Overall the parts of the book I most enjoyed were those relating to 21st Century travel partly I believe due to identification with its theme given my frequent transatlantic flights on which much of my reading takes place and partly due to the brevity and focus of those sections I particularly enjoyed for example Whenever I set off on a journey I fall off the radar No one knows where I am those like me show up all of a sudden in the arrivals terminal and start to exist when the immigrations officers stamp their passpots, or where the polite receptionist at whatever hotel hands over their key She falls asleep too fast, exhausted from jetlag, like a lone card taken out of its deck and shuffled into another, strange oneThe other sections at times dragged summed up I think best by a section A VERY LONG QUARTER OF AN HOUR which in its entirety says On the plane between 8.45 and 9 a.m To my mind, it took an hour, or even longer Some of the pages and sections of the book felt very much the same to me too discursive and unfocused In particular I would unfavourably contrast the book with Charco Press s Fireflies by Luis Sagasti which manages to roam across 20th Century history particularly the history of flight and 20th Century art in only 85 pages Overall though as the quote at the start of this review makes clear the discursive, flowing style is very deliberate here and associated precisely with the state of fluidity and transition that the book is exploring, or to give another quote There are different kinds of looking One kind of looking allows you to simply see objects, useful human things, honest and concrete, which you know right away how to use and what for And then there s panoramic viewing, a general view, thanks to which you notice links between objects, their network of reflections Things cease to be things, the fact that they serve a purpose is insignificant, just a surface Now they re signs, indicating something that isn t in the photographs, referring beyond the frames of the pictures You have to really concentrate to be able to maintain that gaze, as its essence it s a gift, grace From our new Nobel laureate.Now the winner of the Shadow Man Booker International Prize from a panel of reviewers and bloggers, including myself, and also winner of the official Man Booker International Prize My photo of author and translator after I handed them our shadow jury prize Highly recommended Throughout this beautiful chaos, threads of meaning spread in all directions, networks of strange logic.His eyes attentively probe their constellations, positionings, the directions they point in, the shapes they make.Flights published by perhaps the UK s finest publisher, Fitzcarraldo Editions and wonderfully translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft who translates from Argentinian Spanish as well as Polish is the first Olga Tokarczuk novel I have read but certainly won t be the last The Polish original was entitled Bieguni after a peculiar possibly apocryphal sect who believed that the only way to escape the power of the Antichrist was to avoid stability anything that has a stable place in this world every county, church, every human government, everything that has a preserved form in this hell is at his command he who rules the world has no power over movement and knows that our body in motion is holy, and only then can you escape him, once you ve taken off. Although this title could have been used in English, Jennifer Croft took the decision to change it to Flights a title taken from one of the many different pieces that comprise the novel, and which Tokarczuk notes opens up a new interpretation of the novel, given the wider range of connotations that the word has in English vs its Polish equivalent Both speak to the theme of the novel travel and the necessity for some of always being in motion rather than at rest As a young child the narrator finds her way to the Oder river The first trip I ever took was across the fields, on foot It took them a long time to notice I was gone, which meant I was able to make it quite some distance I covered the whole park and even going down dirt roads, through the corn and the damp meadows teeming with cowslip flowers, sectioned into squares by ditches reached the river Though of course the river was ubiquitous in that valley, soaking up under the ground cover and lapping at the field.And she soon realised, that unlike her parents, with their settled life in one place, that life is not for me Clearly I did not inherit whatever gene it is that makes it so that when you linger in a place you start to put down roots I ve tried, a number of times, but my roots have always been shallow the littlest breeze could always blow me right over I don t know how to germinate, I m simply not in possession of that vegetable capacity I can t extract nutrition from the ground, I am the anti Antaeus My energy derives from movement from the shuddering of buses, the rumble of planes, trains and ferries rocking.The novel that unfolds is not told in linear fashion but, rather like the narrator s life, is told in fragments, details of her own travels intercut with observations on the psychology of travel and stories of travelers down the ages Am I doing the right thing telling stories Wouldn t it be better to fasten the mind with a clip, tighten the reins and express myself not be means of stories and histories, but with the simplicity of a lecture, where in sentence after sentence a single thought gets clarified, and then others racked after onto it in the succeeding paragraphs I could use quotes and footnotes I could in the order of points or chapters reap the consequences of demonstrating step by step what it is I mean Tales have a kind of inherent inertia that is never possible to fully control They require people like me insecure, indecisive, easily led astray Naive.And as she observes of her writing career, she became for some time a sort of gargantuan ear that listened to murmurs and echoes and whispers, far off voices that filtered through the walls But I never became a real writer Life always managed to elude me I d only ever find its tracks, the skin it sloughed off By the time I had determined its lo cation, it had already gone somewhere else And all I d find were signs that it had been there, like those scrawl ings on the trunks of trees in parks that merely mark a person s passing presence In my writing, life would turn into incomplete stories, dreamlike tales, would show up from afar in odd dislocated panoramas, or in cross sections and so it would be almost impossible to reach any conclusions as to the whole.Many of the pieces that form the novel are short eg a page and largely stand alone For example The Tongue is the Strongest Muscle pities the fate of monolingual native English speakers How lost they must feel in the world , where all instructions, all the lyrics of the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures even the buttons in the lift are in their private language Wherever they are, people have unlimited access to them they are accessible to everyone and everything Tokarczuk refers to her technique with the shorter pieces as constellation letting the reader draw their own lines and form their own picture, and for me there were a number of main threads that emerged, notably theoretical lectures on travel psychology given, according to the novel s story, gratis at airports to passing passenger by an EU funded program These for example introduce us to Stendhal Syndrome the shock experienced by someone encountering an experience of great personal significance, typically a work of art or a great city and it s near opposite Paris Syndrome the psychological trauma experienced by mostly Japanese tourist when the reality of Paris doesn t live up to their idealised expectations And the three stages of the travellers feeling on waking up in a new place from assuming they are home, to confusion as to where they ars, to the last enlightened stateIt makes no difference I m herethe minor Greek god Kairos, god of the fleeting, opportunistic or advantageous moment the narrator s peculiar attachment she claims it is known as Recurrent Detoxification Syndrome to the imperfect, which manifests itself in her travels as being drawn not to the well known museums in the cities she visits but rather to cabinets of curiosities where collections are comprised of the rare, the unique, the bizarre, the freakish. and linked to this,the book tells the story of the fictitious Dr Blau, putative successor to the real life Gunther von Hagens in the field of plastination crafty plastinators, heirs of embalmers, of tanners, of anatomists and taxidermists I also had the rather unnerving suspicion that this technique could transform originals into copy to preserve organs and bodies, and, earlier from the 17th century, Frederik Ruysch Tokarczuk has also remarked that the narrator s fascination with plastination relates to the fragility of the ultimate vehicle that we all use for travel the human body.Tokarczuk makes a similarly strong link between travel around the world and the mapping of the human anatomy The narrative notes that in 1542, just as Copernicus s revolutionary pun intended map of the solar system Revoltionibus Orbium Coelestium omitted Uranus, so Vesalius s equally important map of the human anatomy De Humani corporis fabrica lacked a number of specific mechanical solutions in the human body, spans, joints, connections such as, to give just one example, the tendon that joins the calf to the heel It was to be 1689 until Filip Verheyen, a contemporary of Ruysch, discovered and named the archilles tendon, and Flights also tells us his story and draws the aforementioned connection How could this tendon never have been noticed It s hard to believe that parts of one s body are discovered as though one were forging one s way upriver in search of sources.Perhaps the least obvious fit to the novel s narrative approach is a conventional fictional and present day story which is inserted, albeit split into three parts over the novel, of a Polish man on holiday in Croatia When visiting a small island, Vis, his wife asks him to stop the car, takes a short walk with his young son, he assumes for a comfort break, but never returns The review by The London Magazine below provides a very helpful interpretation of the story within the context of the overall novel The story within the story Flights, from which the English translation takes its title, provides a companion piece, similarly a near present day fictitious story of a Soviet women, struggling to cope with a ex military vet husband and a chronically ill son One day she goes out on her weekly break, her mother in law providing temporary respite care, but doesn t return to the house, instead finding shelter on the Moscow metro and with the homeless, where she meets a the surviving member of the Bieguni One fascinating aspect of reading Flights, and which I think speaks to the power of the prose as well as the ubiquity of the themes, is the echoes it raised from other favourite books I have read in the last 12 months, notably other books from Fitzcarraldo themselves as well as their small independent press peers from the Republic of Consciousness Prize The opening section, describing the narrator s first trip to a river, could have been taken from Esther Kinsky s River the preoccupation with collections of the macabre from Matthias Enard s magnificent Compass and the opening quote to my review, with its sense of permanent possessions as a burden, echoes the story of the auctioneer from David Hayden s Darker with the Lights On Stendhal Syndrome also features in three wonderful books Noemi Lefebvre s Blue Self Portrait, Jack Robinson s Overcoat and Eley Williams s Attrib Highly recommended and I look forward to of the author and translator s work, in particular Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead, which Fitzcarraldo will publish later in 2018 and the Book of Jacob which Jennifer Croft is currently finalising.Other reviews that do the book justice than I can interview Co Mamy Wsp Lnego Z Biegunami Prawos Awnym Od Amem Starowierc W, Lud Mi, Kt Rzy Z O Oswajaj Ruchem Ile Jest W Nas Z Biegun W Od Dawnych Su Ta Skich Pa Ac W Przez Siedemnastowieczne Gabinety Osobliwo Ci Po Wsp Czesne Hale Odlot W Olga Tokarczuk Zabiera Czytelnik W W Niezwyk Podr Przez R Ne Miejsca I Czasy Zaprasza Do Wsp Lnego Oswajania Migotliwej, Fragmentarycznej Rzeczywisto Ci, Do Porzucania Utartych Szlak W Ta Powie Nie Ma Granic Dzieje Si Na Ca Ym Wiecie My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.An essayistic work of fiction about travel, anatomy, and time, Flights meditates on what it means to embrace wandering as a way of life A few lengthy stories about travelers and migrants comprise the bulk of the collection, but between these the author intersperses many short sketches, essays, anecdotes, and facts Some have taken issue with the shorter pieces, but I found both kinds of work to be hit or miss In spite of the collection s unevenness, Tokarczuk occasionally draws interesting parallels between the ways humans map the world, the body, and the intellect Had the author connected these disparate insights into some kind of overarching argument, the book would have been consistently engaging. A philosophical meditation in anatomy, time and travel, all three are intrinsically linked throughout The book is filled with odd stories and even stranger characters Although some of the stories really trigger some emotional responses, this book did feel heavy There s lots to digest here It was most definitely a slog at times I often caught myself absent mindedly reading Not a good sign I did rather enjoy the brief snippets of passages where the author concentrated on the musings and observations of modern day travel At times the stories got too technical and scientifically specific, the anatomy lessons in particular became a little overwhelming for me, it reminded me why I failed miserably in Science, it was hard to keep my concentration the whole way through Some stories felt well composed others particularly the ancient historical ones did nothing for me or my appreciation for this book or author This book is definitely worthy of plenty of praise but I was probably not this books preferred reader It probably also deserves 5 stars for this is a massive accomplishment of a novel, also praise for the translator who did a phenomenal job, however I can only bestow it 3 stars for not sustaining my interest all the way through and really testing my concentration as a reader. Rating 2.5This is a book that demands a lot of mental work and, at slightly than 400 pages, a considerable time investment While I don t exactly regret reading it which is something, I suppose, I was far less impressed with it than most I d like to have to show for my time than I do This is a fragmented, chaotic, and even careless book roughly organized around the topics of travel and anatomy As advertised, it is not a traditional or conventional novel perhaps not a novel at all It s a collection of loosely connected stories many of them inconclusive , anecdotes, facts, a lot of pseudo facts information that masquerades as having a foundation in reality , ruminations, and attempts at playfulness, cleverness some of them self conscious or self referential It seems that Tokarczuk did a fair bit of consulting of Wikipedia and who knows what other sources to create her book She marvels at the online, collaborative encyclopaedia than once in Flights Whatever the case, a lot of the information Tokarczuk presents in her book is just flat out wrong Dark matter, for example, does not account for three quarters of the universe According to NASA, it makes up about 27%, while 68% of the universe is dark energy Any basic anatomy or neurology text will tell you we do not, as Tokarczuk alleges, owe our short term memory to the hippocampus The hippocampus is actually involved in long term memory storage Atat rk, whose reforms came in the 1920s, was not responsible for the cruel removal of dogs from Constantinople Istanbul to an island in the Bosporus, where they would die of thirst and starvation This came in the early 1900s, according to humanities and law professor Colin Dayan in her 2016 book With Dogs at the Edge of Life Columbia University Press and other sources Is Tokarczuk s carelessness with facts in this book intentional some sort of deliberate post modern disregard for accuracy or is it a result of translator or editorial carelessness I don t know, but I don t see how it serves her meditation on travel and anatomy After I encountered several such errors, I mistrusted the author Why was I struggling to parse her sometimes tedious lectures on travel psychology and discussions of imaginary psychological syndromes that had no foundation in reality The book increasingly became a sort of futile game I didn t care to participate in While I enjoyed a couple of the longer stories Tokarczuk included for example, the story of a New Zealand biologist whose work involves the extermination of invasive species returning to her native Poland to facilitate the assisted suicide of a former lover, and another about a despairing Russian wife and mother, who rides the subway for days on end to escape her hopeless home life for me, this book just didn t come together The idea that things in motion aren t ultimately as subject to entropy as things at rest just seemed silly A book that initially struck me as stimulating and clever soon lost its lustre Flights turned out to be less than the sum of its parts and certainly overhyped. Now deserving Nobel LaureateAge all in your mind Gender grammatical I actually buy my books in paperback, so that I can leave them without remorse on the platform, for someone else to find I don t collect anythingThis book can be a kind of bible for the people with restless legs people whose biggest fear that they will have to spend all their life in one place to whom travel is the religion, road is the home and their own house merely a comfortable hotel The narrator is one such personStanding there on the embankment, staring into the current, I realized that in spite of all the risks involved a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest that change will always be a nobler thing than permanence that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity From then on, the river was like a needle inserted into my formerly safe and stable surroundings, the landscape comprised of the park, the greenhouses with their vegetables that grew in sad little rows, and the pavement with its concrete slabs where we would go to play hopscotch This needle went all the way through, marking a vertical third dimension so pierced, the landscape of my childhood world turned out to be nothing than a toy made of rubber from which all the air was escaping, with a hissThere is a small percentage of people who are willing to let go off security and comforts of a settled life to live like nomads because they suffer from what the author calls Recurrent Detoxification Syndrome one of my best friend is like thatWithout the bells and whistles, its description boils down to the insistence of one s consciousness on returning to certain images, or even the compulsive search for them It is a variant of the Mean World Syndrome, which has been described fairly exhaustively in neuropsychological studies as a particular type of infection caused by the media It s quite a bourgeois ailment, I suppose Patients spend long hours in front of the TV, thumbing at their remote controls through all the channels till they find the ones with the most horrendous news wars, epidemics and disasters Then, fascinated by what they re seeing, they can t tear themselves awayIt is the other lot, the settlers which must have been strange to themThey d set up in the designated areas, at campsites where they were always in the company of others just like them, having lively conversations with their neighbours surrounded by socks drying on tent cords The itineraries for these trips would be determined with the aid of guidebooks that painstakingly highlighted all the attractions In the morning a swim in the sea or the lake, and in the afternoon an excursion into the city s history, capped off by dinner, most often out of glass jars goulash, meatballs in tomato sauce You just had to cook the pasta or the rice Costs were always being cut, the Polish zloty was weak penny of the world There was the search for a place where you could get electricity and then the reluctant decamping after, although all journeys remained within the same metaphysical orbit of home They weren t real travellers they left in order to return And they were relieved when they got back, with a sense of having fulfilled an obligation They returned to collect the letters and bills that stacked up on the chest of drawers To do a big wash To bore their friends to death by showing pictures as everyone attempted to conceal their yawns This is us in Carcassonne Here s my wife with the Acropolis in the backgroundThe shorter ones of the over 100 chapters also the ones I liked best that form this book are full of such travel anecdotes whereas bigger ones give a few short stories All related directly or indirectly to traveling touching other themes like immigration, education, travelling psychology, writing, anatomy, evolution, history, Wikipedia etc The book probably is not a traditional novel like a diary kept by a traveler with a wide range of curiosities and who is as ficklish with what she writes as she is flighty with her feet Often a review is just an excuse to quote from the book and this review is one of those excuses.Of SchoolsHere we were taught that the world could be described, and even explained, by means of simple answers to intelligent questions That in its essence the world was inert and dead, governed by fairly simple laws that needed to be explained and made public if possible with the aid of diagrams We were required to do experiments To formulate hypotheses To verify We were inducted into the mysteries of statistics, taught to believe that equipped with such a tool we would be able to perfectly describe all the workings of the world that ninety per cent is significant than fiveOf writing novelsAnyone who has ever tried to write a novel knows what an arduous task it is, undoubtedly one of the worst ways of occupying oneself You have to remain within yourself all the time, in solitary confinement It s a controlled psychosis, an obsessive paranoia manacled to work, completely lacking in the feather pens and bustles and Venetian masks we would ordinarily associate with it, clothed instead in a butcher s apron and rubber boots, eviscerating knife in hand You can only barely see from that writerly cellar the feet of passers by, hear the rapping of their heels Every so often someone stops and bends down and glances in through the window, and then you get a glimpse of a human face, maybe even exchange a few words But ultimately the mind is so occupied with its own act, a play staged by the self for the self in a hasty, makeshift cabinet of curiosities peopled by author and character, narrator and reader, the person describing and the person being described, that feet, shoes, heels, and faces become, sooner or later, mere components of that actAbout WikipediaAs far as I can tell, this is mankind s most honest cognitive project It is frank about the fact that all the information we have about the world comes straight out of our own heads, like Athena out of Zeus s People bring to Wikipedia everything they know If the project succeeds, then this encyclopaedia undergoing perpetual renewal will be the greatest wonder of the world It has everything we know in it every thing, definition, event, and problem our brains have worked on we shall cite sources, provide linksAbout traveling aloneAn old friend of mine once told me how he hated travelling alone His gripe was when he sees something out of the ordinary, something new and beautiful, he so wants to share it with someone that he becomes deeply unhappy if there s no one around.I doubt he would make a good pilgrimStendhal SyndromeThere is a certain well known syndrome named after Stendhal in which one arrives in a place known from literature or art and experiences it so intensely that one grows weak or faints There are those who boast they have discovered places totally unknown, and then we envy them for experiencing the truest reality even very fleetingly before that place, like all the rest, is absorbed by our mindsAbout obsessionObsession is, in any case, the premonition of the existence of an individual language, an irreproducible language through the attentive use of which we will be able to uncover the truth We must follow this premonition into regions that to others might seem absurd and mad I don t know why this language of truth sounds angelic to some, while to others it changes into mathematical signs or notations But there are also those to whose whim it speaks in a very strange wayAbout LogicI want to know, and not give in to logic What do I care about a proof from the outside, framed as a geometric argument It provides merely a semblance of logical consequence and of an order pleasing to the mindAbout telling talesTales have a kind of inherent inertia that is never possible to fully control They require people like me insecure, indecisive, easily led astray Naive Audiobook read by Julia Whelan Winner of the Man Booker PrizeThis is my first book by Oga Tokarczuk a Polish author The stories gave me the visuals of roaming traveling without a permanent plan yet wishing for inner peace and tribal connections.The blurb tells of the nitty gritty specifics..me I enjoyed Julia Whelan s voice picking up on emotions just letting my imagination sync with the stories I was reminded of my travel days wondering streets of Tel Aviv or Afghanistan observing other people and being observed I learned the big lesson from traveling for two years outside the United States years ago which I thought about with these stories You take yourself with you no matter where you go no matter how far you run I enjoyed the writing the uniqueness the stories themselves and the precise feeling that things are the exactly the way they are in the moment but not what we wish them to be Feelings of running as if taking a train to a new city might help being loss hoping for understanding and better daysno permanence but searching wondering and desiring how feeling settled with home might be Ha I can say today..,Home feels better than roaming off for years but I m not regretful for those lonely years either.of moving from one place to the next day in and day out.Today, though, I at least have the illusion of feeling I ve found my place in the world I can t possibly be confident that I fully comprehended all these stories but I did reflect and allowed my own introspective voice be heard while simply enjoying the rhythm the movement of Olga s creatively I liked it I felt it s universal power of humanity. In the profusion of images and metaphors that make up this book, one image stands out That I m now using it as an opening for the review is apt, because the image I m thinking of is a line, as in the first stroke a pen makes on a blank sheet of paper Or the line made by a jet stream, dividing the sky in two Or the stroke made by an anatomist s scalpel on virgin skin Or indeed the line made by the shadow that splits the earth into daytime and nightime, bright time and dark time It s no surprise then that Olga Tokarczuk s wunderkammer of a book is full of contrasts, that it s a treasure chest with a bright side and a dark side No surprise at all.Because for every episode that celebrates life, there s another that celebrates death Tokarczuk invites us to travel across the azure of the heavens on one page, while on the next, she drags us through Stygian underworlds Her pen needles our emotions and memories, and strikes right into our hearts But her subject is bigger than you or me As she moves across the globe, she examines the places she visits with an anatomist s eye She shows us that places too can have circulation systems, lungs, and a beating heart Because this book is a giant anatomy lesson And the body on the table is the Earth itself. Each of my pilgrimages aims at some other pilgrim In this case the pilgrim is in pieces, broken down This might very well be the first time that I have no clear picture in my head regarding this review Flights is the winner of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize and this is one of those cases where the verb like and its negative form can t retain any significant meaning So be patient with me while I am trying to clumsily explain the impact Flights had on me.In a magnificent translation by Jennifer Croft, Flights is a modern Odyssey of the human being amidst eternal journeys from country to country but, most importantly, within ourselves Anatomy and transportation are combined to demonstrate the continuous search, the change, the fight for self discovery Individual stories, taking place over different eras, born out of curiosity and despair Tokarczuk s work is a hymn to human emotions, to independence, to unfulfilled wishesHe said that death marks places like a dog marking its territoryFlights is a novel featuring characteristics of essays, biography, and non fiction, where the voice of the writer reflects the feelings and thoughts of characters in a distant and, at times, clinically sharp way Tokarczuk s writing brings to mind great authors of Balkan and East European Literature I found similarities to Da a Drndic and Dubravka Ugre ic although, in my opinion, Tokarczuk lacks the darkness and impact of the two Croatian writers She focuses on issues that reflect the strangest aspects of traveling and searching for the destination that would mean the end of a fulfilling journey Or not What happens when you don t want to reach the end When you feel that you can t settle, that you don t need a permanent basisThe apartment doesn t understand what s happened The apartment thinks its owner has died There is a plethora of information in this beautiful book Tokarczuk refers to the Recurrent Detoxification Syndrome, the need of the human mind to return to certain images no matter how disturbing or repulsive they may be It s what makes us freeze, unable to take our eyes off images that make our stomach turn Another interesting point has to do with the apartment that is left behind, locked and dark, when we depart for a journey, leaving our shelter silent and lifeless And what about the images that come to mind at the sound of a country s name What do we recall when we think of e.g.China, Russia, Spain, Lithuania, Serbia, Ireland and every other country of our planet Each one of us forms a unique, personal picture based on experience, education, and various cultural influences.The richness and power of Flights lie in the characters and their journeys I was confused, moved and horrified by the story of Kunicki, a Polish businessman, whose wife and son disappear for three days and for unknown reasons while vacationing in a Croatian island The story of a Russian woman, a mother in the most difficult position imaginable, who tries to relieve the pain of people who have no destination any made me think of loneliness and the horrible feeling that you re slowly drifting away when you aren t strong enough to fight Neboj a s thoughts on what war leaves behind and the moving journey of Chopin s heart from Paris to Warsaw are outstanding moments.I don t particularly agree with a few of the writer s views on people and God They seemed too detached, almost nihilistic, but this is of little importance Flights should be an undisputed reading choice, a book that can be read while on a journey, in an airport while the night is falling, in a hotel room overlooking the distant glimpses of the city lights And if you don t travel, do not worry Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft are here to be your powerful guidesI m a few years old, I m sitting on the window sill, and I m looking out onto the chilled courtyard The lights in the school s kitchen are extinguished everyone has left All the doors are closed, hatched down, blinds lowered I d like to leave, but there s nowhere to go My own presence is the only thing with a distinct outline now, an outline that quivers and undulates, and in so doing, hurts And all of a sudden I know there s nothing anyone can do now, here I am My reviews can also be found on