Poland hails its first Man Booker International winner

By The Associated Press | Posted - May 23rd, 2018 @ 10:32am

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's first ever writer to win the Man Booker International Prize said Wednesday she is happy that her book has been given a new life on an international scale and that it is attracting attention to Poland's authors.

Olga Tokarczuk won the prize Tuesday with the English translation of her novel "Flights," which charts multiple journeys in time, space and human anatomy.

"I am really lucky that a book I wrote more than 10 years ago is given a new lease on life in a different culture and different language zone and is still seen as relating to the current times," Tokarczuk said on Poland's TVN24.

Winning the prize meant that publishers from around the world are getting in touch about her work, she said, adding that she hoped the renewed interest would extend to other Polish writers.

"Polish literature can be interesting to the world. I'm happy to be the trailblazer," she said.

The 56-year-old author is among Poland's top writers. Her liberal views and perspectives on Polish history — especially on the Holocaust, including her criticism of Polish anti-Semitism — have clashed with those of the ruling conservative party. She has received death threats in the past.

Still, Deputy Culture Minister Jaroslaw Sellin said he's happy over "every success" of Polish artists. He stressed the award has even greater weight after this year's Nobel Prize for literature was cancelled.

Tokarczuk's novel was first published in 2007 and was translated last year by Jennifer Croft, who shares the prize.

The prize is a counterpart to the Man Booker Prize for English-language novels and is open to books in any language that have been translated into English. The 50,000-pound ($67,000) award is split evenly between the writer and her translator.

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