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Olga Tokarczuk: Writing Polish Identity

Tokarczuk

1 March 2016, 6:00pm

William Mong Hall, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

 

Olga Tokarczuk is perhaps Poland's most decorated and eminent contemporary novelist. Cambridge Polish Studies welcomed her to Sidney Sussex College for an evening of readings from her work (in English and Polish) and discussion. Olga Tokarczuk was accompanied by the main translator of her books into English, Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

Olga Tokarczuk's most recent novel, The Books of Jacob (Księgi Jakubowe) won Poland's most prestigious literary award, the Nike Prize, in 2015. The novel is based on the historical story of Jacob Frank, a heretical Jew who converted to Christianity and styled himself as Messiah in the eastern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the eighteenth century. In the novel, Tokarczuk deals with the most difficult questions of Poland's diverse multiethnic, multiconfessional and multicultural history.

Questions of Polish identity have loomed large in all of Tokarczuk's works, and the event included some in-depth discussion of these complex issues.

 

As part of the event, we also presented the Talkman Prize for Literary Translation, awarded to the best translation into English of a work of Polish literature by a student of Polish Studies at Cambridge.  

The main prize is a summer school course in Polish language and culture at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, including flights, accommodation and board. The prize is kindly sponsored by Talkman Language Solutions.

The winner of the Talkman Prize for 2015-16 is Joss Lloyd.

We also wish to thank the Polish Cultural Institute in London for their kind support of this event.

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