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Nobelprize for Literature for Alumna Olga Tokarczuk

Nobel Prize for Literature for Alumna Olga Tokarczuk

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 was awarded to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life." Olga Tokarczuk was writer-in-residence at NIAS in 2009.

Ellen Rutten, Professor of Literature and currently at NIAS, is delighted with this recognition for Olga Tokarczuk. “Her work is genre-crossing – a mix of memoir, prose, essay – and is praised by critics for its subtlety, lightness and conceptual multilayeredness. In her books, one encounters collectors of dreams, parapsychological talents and other figures from the world of magic and myth. But for Tokarczuk, fantasy is never mere amusement. Her work deepens our understanding of travel, boundaries, history, in particular Polish history, and social and national identity.”

In Dutch, Tokarczuk’s books are beautifully translated by Karol Lesman, who was translator-in-residence at NIAS in 2008 .

On Narratives, excerpt from the Nobel Lecture

Olga Tokarczuk delivered her Nobel Lecture in Literature on Saturday 7 December 2019:

“How we think about the world and—perhaps even more importantly—how we narrate it have a massive significance, therefore. A thing that happens and is not told ceases to exist and perishes. This is a fact well known to not only historians, but also (and perhaps above all) to every stripe of politician and tyrant. He who has and weaves the story is in charge.

Today our problem lies—it seems—in the fact that we do not yet have ready narratives not only for the future, but even for a concrete now, for the ultra-rapid transformations of today’s world. We lack the language, we lack the points of view, the metaphors, the myths and new fables. Yet we do see frequent attempts to harness rusty, anachronistic narratives that cannot fit the future to imaginaries of the future, no doubt on the assumption that an old something is better than a new nothing, or trying in this way to deal with the limitations of our own horizons. In a word, we lack new ways of telling the story of the world.”

Olga Tokarczuk delivering the Nobel Lecture in Literature.