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Flights by Olga Tokarczuk wins Man Booker International Prize 2018

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk wins Man Booker International Prize 2018


  • First Polish winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Tokarczuk is one of the country’s most important writers

  • Flights is a meditation on arrivals, departures and impermanence


Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft and published by Fitzcarraldo Editions, is today, Tuesday 22 May, announced as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2018. The £50,000 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, has been divided equally between its author and translator. They have also both received a further £1,000 for being shortlisted.



Olga Tokarczuk is a multiple award winner and bestseller in Poland whose work is now gaining recognition in the English-speaking world. She trained as a psychologist at the University of Warsaw, and her interest in Jung continues to influence her work. Her first book, a collection of poems, was published in 1989. She is the author of eight novels and two short-story collections. Alongside her writing she co-hosts a boutique literary festival near her home in Lower Silesia in southern Poland.



Jennifer Croft translates from Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian, having studied for an MFA in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa and lived in Argentina and Poland. Now resident in Los Angeles, she is a founding editor of the Buenos Aires Review.



Flights is a novel of linked fragments, from the 17th century to the present day, connected by themes of travel and human anatomy.



The Financial Times called Flights ‘A philosophical tale for our frantic times’. Adam Mars-Jones wrote of it in the London Review of Books: ‘Flights could almost be an inventory of the ways narrative can serve a writer short of, and beyond, telling a story. The book’s prose is a lucid medium in which narrative crystals grow to an ideal size, independent structures not disturbing the balance of the whole.’



The winner is announced by Lisa Appignanesi OBE at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.



It was selected from 108 submissions by a panel of five judges, chaired by Lisa Appignanesi OBE, author and cultural commentator, and consisting of: Michael Hofmann, poet, reviewer and translator from German; Hari Kunzru, author of five novels including The Impressionist and White Tears; Tim Martin, journalist and literary critic, and Helen Oyeyemi, author of novels, plays and short stories including The Icarus Girl.



Lisa Appignanesi comments:



‘Our deliberations were hardly easy, since our shortlist was such a strong one. But I’m very pleased to say that we decided on the great Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk as our winner: Tokarczuk is a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache. In Flights, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, by a series of startling juxtapositions she flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament – where only plastic escapes mortality.’



Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:



‘Along with my colleagues at Man Group, I would like to congratulate Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft, as well as each of the shortlisted authors and translators. As a firm, we welcome and encourage diversity and difference across our business. The Man Booker International Prize plays an important role in celebrating extraordinary fiction in translation, and we are proud to support the prize as it continues to bring the breadth and depth of global literary talent to the attention of readers worldwide.’



The Man Booker International Prize and the Man Booker Prize for Fiction together reward the best books from around the globe that are published in the UK and are available in English.



The prize is sponsored by Man Group, an active investment management firm that also sponsors the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest in contemporary literature.



www.themanbookerprize.com  |  @ManBookerPrize  |  #MBI2018  #FinestFiction



– Ends –



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The Winner



Flights

Olga Tokarczuk  

Translated by Jennifer Croft


Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions

Flights is a novel about travel in the 21st century and human anatomy. From the 17th  century, we have the story of the real Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg, discovering in so doing the Achilles tendon. From the 18th century, we have the story of a North African-born slave turned Austrian courtier stuffed and put on display after his death in spite of his daughter’s ever more desperate protests, as well as the story of Chopin’s heart as it makes the covert journey from Paris to Warsaw, stored in a tightly sealed jar beneath his sister’s skirt. From the present we have the trials and tribulations of a wife accompanying her much older professor husband as he teaches a course on a cruise ship in the Greek islands, the quest of a Polish woman who emigrated to New Zealand as a teenager but must now return to Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high-school sweetheart, and the slow descent into madness of a young husband whose wife and child mysteriously vanished on a vacation on a Croatian island and then appeared again with no explanation.



Through these narratives, interspersed with short bursts of analysis and digressions on topics ranging from travel-sized cosmetics to the Maori, Flights guides the reader beyond the surface layer of modernity and towards the core of the very nature of humankind.



The judges comment:



“‘Flights’ is about the contemporary condition of perpetual movement, which is also about never leaving your body, which itself is in movement and is going to die. It’s a book about nomadism; it’s a book about escape, about going from place to place and living in airports. But at the same time you do inhabit a body and therefore we cannot escape the final thing, which is the grim reaper. Meanwhile it is also wonderfully playful and witty and ironic.”




Olga Tokarczuk was born in Sulechow, Poland, in January 1962. In 2015 she received the Brueckepreis and a prestigious annual literary award from Poland's Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well as Poland’s highest literary honour, the Nike and the Nike Readers’ Prize. Tokarczuk also received a Nike in 2009 for Flights. She is the author of eight novels and two short-story collections. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages. 

Jennifer Croft was born in Oklahoma, USA, in September 1981. She is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN and National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as the Michael Henry Heim Prize, and her translations from Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian have appeared in the New York Times, n+1, Electric Literature, the New Republic, BOMB, Guernica and elsewhere. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. She is a founding editor of the Buenos Aires Review.



 



Notes to editors



Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft are available for interview. Please contact Nicci Praça nicci.praca@gmail.com 07454815421



The Man Booker International Prize 2018 winner was chosen from 108 submissions. The shortlist was:



Author (country/territory), Translator, Title (Imprint)



  • Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1 (Quercus, MacLehose Press)

  • Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books)

  • László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes, The World Goes On (Tuskar Rock Press)

  • Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow (Tuskar Rock Press)

  • Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld)

  • Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)


 



  • The Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize is Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent of The Economist and 1843. The Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation is Gaby Wood

     

  • Books under consideration have been published in English in translation by UK publishers between 1 May 2017 and 30 April 2018

     

  • The winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2017 was A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen. In the week following the 2017 winner announcement, sales of A Horse Walks into a Bar increased by 1,367%. Penguin had to reprint the paperback 10 times last year due to ongoing demand. In its first year, the paperback has sold 53 times more than Grossman’s previous title in paperback, Falling Out of Time

     

  • There is no restriction on the number of submissions per publisher but this will be kept under review and may change in future years

     

  • Four Colman Getty handles PR and event management for the prize and provides all events and administrative back-up

     

  • The Man Booker International Prize website includes detailed information about all aspects of the prize and runs regular news bulletins: www.themanbookerprize.com 

     

  • The Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all aspects of the book world. Its members are: Mark Chilton – Company Secretary and General Counsel of Booker Group plc; Jonty Claypole – Head of Arts, BBC; James Daunt – Managing Director of Waterstones; Jonathan Douglas – Director of the National Literacy Trust; Maggie Fergusson – writer and Secretary of the Royal Society of Literature; Adam Freudenheim – publisher, Pushkin Press; Derek Johns – author & literary agent; Peter Kemp – Chief Fiction Reviewer, The Sunday Times; Rosanna Konarzewski – Global Head of Communications and Marketing, Man Group; Nigel Newton – publisher, Bloomsbury; Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent, The Economist and 1843 and Man Booker International Prize Administrator; Michal Shavit – publishing director, Jonathan Cape; Eve Smith – Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation; Boyd Tonkin – writer and critic. It is chaired by Gaby Wood, Literary Director, Booker Prize Foundation

     

  • The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) established in 2002. Since then it has been responsible for the award of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and for the Man Booker International Prize since its inauguration in 2005. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are: Baroness Kennedy QC (Chair) – former Chair of the British Council and Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford; Bidisha – writer, critic and broadcaster; James Naughtie – broadcaster; Ben Okri OBE – writer and 1991 Booker Prize winner; Christopher Pearce – former Finance Director of Rentokil plc; Professor Louise Richardson – Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Jonathan Taylor CBE is President of the Foundation and Sir Ronald Harwood, Baroness Neuberger and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne are Vice Presidents

     

  • Man Group has sponsored the Man Booker Prize since 2002 and the Man Booker International Prize since its inception in 2005. An active investment management firm founded in 1783, Man Group was recognised as a partner that mirrored the quality, integrity and longevity of the Booker Prize. The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education, as well as the firm’s commitment to excellence and creativity. Together with the wider charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the prizes play a very important role in promoting literary excellence on a global scale that the firm is honoured to support

     

  • Man Group is a global active investment management firm, which runs $112.7 billion* of client capital in liquid and private markets, managed by investment specialists based around the world. Headquartered in London, the firm has 15 international offices and operates across 25 jurisdictions. Our business has five specialist investment engines, which represent the range of our capabilities: Man AHL, Man Numeric, Man GLG, Man FRM and Man GPM. These engines house numerous investment teams, working collaboratively within the framework of Man Group, with a high degree of investment autonomy. Each team benefits from the strength and resources of the firm’s single operating platform, enabling their primary focus to be seeking to generate alpha for clients. The teams invest across a diverse range of strategies and asset classes with highly specialised approaches, with long only and alternative strategies run on a discretionary and quantitative basis in single and multi-manager formats. Our clients are at the heart of everything we do and we engage in close dialogue with our investors as strategic partners, to understand their particular needs and constraints. Man Group’s investment teams are empowered and supported by our institutional infrastructure and technology, which aims to facilitate the most efficient exposure to markets and effective collaboration across the organisation.


    Through the Man Charitable Trust and sponsorship of the Man Booker Prizes, Man Group is committed to promoting literacy and numeracy on a global scale, and to supporting charitable causes more broadly.


    Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker EMG.LN and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. Further information can be found at www.man.com


    *As at 31 March 2018. All investment management and advisory services are offered through the investment “engines” of Man AHL, Man Numeric, Man GLG, Man FRM and Man Global Private Markets (GPM)

     


  • Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with over 170 branches nationwide. It serves over 350,000 independent businesses


 



Four Colman Getty

May 2018