Olga Tokarczuk and translator Jennifer Croft
Fully 11 years after it was published in Poland, Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, a tale of time, space and the psychology of travelling, translated by Jennifer Crofts, won the prize.
Tokarczuk, a feminist atheist with progressive politics, has been attacked by culturally conservative elements in Poland as being unpatriotic – a charge forcefully rebutted. Her early training as a clinical psychologist informs her fiction, adding to the challenge faced by her American translator Jennifer Croft – an author in her own right. It was, said Croft, Tokarczuk’s ‘ability to distil the essence of a person’ that first made her want to translate her work. Endorsing the Man Booker International Prize judges’ opinion, Tokarczuk was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.