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Adam Mars-Jones: Olga Tokarczuk, 5 October 2017

by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft.
Fitzcarraldo, 400 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 910695 43 2
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... opens with the potent introitus of take-off and closes with an amen descending into landing.’ Jennifer Croft​ ’s translation is exceptionally adventurous, as that passage shows, even if there are occasional awkwardnesses of word order and clashes of register. (To say, of Peter the First’s interest in anatomical specimens, that the tsar ‘got ...

The Fog of History

Fredric Jameson: On Olga Tokarczuk, 24 March 2022

The Books of Jacob 
by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft.
Fitzcarraldo, 892 pp., £20, November 2021, 978 1 910695 59 3
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... Hebrew​  is written from right to left: could you get a feel for it by numbering the pages of a book backwards, as in Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob? At least, you might think, you would know how many pages you had left to read without having to subtract; but there you would be wrong, as doing this has the effect of eliminating the very idea of a last page, which has turned out to be the first! Perhaps, then, it simulates the Messianic countdown itself: the time of waiting for the end time, or for Apocalypse, ‘a king on a white horse, riding into Jerusalem wearing gold armour, perhaps with an army, too, with warriors who would seize power alongside him and bring about the final order of the world ...

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