Olga Tokarczuk

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Olga Tokarczuk (2019)

Olga Nawoja Tokarczuk [ɔlga tɔˈkart͡ʂuk] (born January 29, 1962 in Sulechów near Zielona Góra , Poland ) is a Polish writer and psychologist . In 2019, she retroactively received the Nobel Prize in Literature of 2018, which had not previously been awarded.


Her parents, Wanda and Józef Tokarczuk, came from the former Polish Eastern Territories , from which they were resettled in western Poland after the Second World War and in the course of its integration into the Soviet Union . Tokarczuk spent her childhood in the village of Klenica in what is now the Lubusz Voivodeship, not far from Zielona Góra , where her parents were employed as teachers. The family later moved to Kietrz in Upper Silesia in the Opole Voivodeship . There she attended the municipal Liceum , which she graduated from high school in 1980. She then studied psychology at the University of Warsaw . Alongside her studies, she worked as a volunteer in a home for young people with behavioral problems. She completed her Magistra degree in 1985 , married and initially moved to Wroclaw . From 1986 to 1989 she worked in the Cracow Mental Health Clinic. In 1986 she gave birth to a son. The family moved to Wałbrzych , where she was employed as a psychotherapist in the Methodological Center for Teachers until 1996 . Since 1998 she has lived in the small village of Krajanów near Nowa Ruda in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship . From here she ran the small publishing house "Ruta" from 1998 to 2003 together with her husband at the time, Roman Fingas , before she devoted herself entirely to writing.

She sees herself in the intellectual tradition of Carl Gustav Jung , whose theories she also cites as an inspiration for her literary work. In 1994 she joined the Association of Polish Writers and in 1999 became a member of the Polish PEN Club . After 2004 she was a member of the Partia Zieloni for a while .

In October 2019 she founded the "Olga Tokarczuk Foundation" in Wroclaw together with her second husband and manager, the German specialist Grzegorz Zygadło. Iryna Wikyrtschak works as the foundation's cultural manager .


Tokarczuk made her debut in 1979 in the youth magazine Na Przełaj , in which she published her first stories under the pseudonym "Natasza Borodin" . 1989 is the year of the publication of her first book, a collection of poems titled “Miasta w lustrach” ( Cities in Mirrors ). Her debut novel, “Podróż ludzi księgi” (Book People's Journey ), a parable about two lovers looking for the “secret of the book” (a metaphor for the meaning of life), is set in 17th century France and was published in 1993. With this book, the author achieved great popularity with readers and critics. The title of the follow-up novel E. E. (1995) bears the initials of his heroine, a young woman named "Erna Eltzner", who grew up in a bourgeois German-Polish family in the prewar Breslau and developed superhuman skills.

Tokarczuk's third novel "Prawiek i inne czasy" ( Ur and Other Times ), published in 1996, achieved great success . It is set in the fictional town of Ur in eastern Poland, which is populated by eccentric primeval rocks. The town is under the protection of the four archangels Raphael, Uriel, Gabriel and Michael, from whose perspective the novel records the life of the residents over a period of eight decades since 1914. Parallel to the varied Polish history of that time, but at the same time strangely removed from it, the novel describes the constant return of all human joys and pains, which in Ur can be seen through a burning glass. The novel has been translated into many languages, including German, and established Tokarczuk's international reputation as one of the most important protagonists of contemporary Polish literature.

After “Prawiek i inne czasy” Tokarczuk's work began to move away from the novel form and towards shorter prose texts and essays. The book “Szafa” ( Cabinet ), published in 1997, was a collection of three texts in the style of short stories. "Dom dzienny, dom nocny" ( day house, night house ) was published in 1998. Although formally a novel, it is more like a collection of loosely connected texts, sketches and essays on the present and the past in the author's adopted home, a village in the Waldenburg uplands near the Polish-Czech border. Although Tokarczuk's most difficult book, at least for those unfamiliar with Central European history, it was the first to be translated into English.

After that, Tokarczuk published a number of collections of short stories: In 2000, “Ostatnie historie” ( Last Stories ) and the essay “Lalka i perła” ( The Doll and the Pearl ) on Bolesław Prus ' novel “Lalka” and the hymn Das appeared Pearl song from the apocryphal Acts of Thomas , translated by Czeslaw Milosz . With her equally popular colleagues Jerzy Pilch and Andrzej Stasiuk , she published the volume "Opowieści wigilijne" with three modern Christmas stories. "Gra na wielu bębenkach" followed in 2001 ( play on many drums ).

In 2014 “Księgi Jakubowe” ( The Jacob's Books ) were published in Poland, which was published in German in 2019. In Poland she was attacked for this book and even threatened with death. It takes a critical look at the often glorified Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic republic of the 18th century. apart and shows this as a politically weak feudal state, which included abuse of power by high nobility and clergy, oppression of ethnic minorities, Jewish pogroms or slave-like exploitation of serf peasants. Against the background of a broad panorama of southeast Poland in the 18th century, Tokarczuk tells the story of Jakob Joseph Frank, who was venerated as the Messiah .

Nobel Prize for Literature

Tokarczuk has received numerous Polish and international literary prizes. On October 10, 2019, the Swedish Academy in Stockholm announced the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018, “for her narrative imagination which, combined with encyclopedic passion, for crossing boundaries as a new form of life stands “(“ for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life ”). The award is nine million Swedish crowns endowed , at this time the equivalent of around 831,000 euros. The award was made retrospectively in 2019 because the Academy decided against awarding the award in 2018 after scandals and resignations. After her return to Poland, Tokarczuk donated her Nobel Prize medal to the Great Orchestra of Christmas Aid .



  • Miasto w lustrach (City in Mirrors, Poems). Supplement to Okolice magazine . No. 10/1989.
  • Podróż ludzi Księgi ( Book People's Journey). 1993.
  • EE novel. Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1995.
  • Prawiek i inne czasy. 1996.
  • Szafa. Stories. 1997.
  • Dom dzienny, dom nocny. rosaband, 1998.
  • Lalka i Perła (The Doll and the Pearl). Essay. 2000.
  • Gra na wielu bębenkach. 19 opowiadań. Anthology . Wydawnictwo Ruta, 2001.
    • Play many drums. 19 stories. Translated from the Polish by Esther Kinsky. Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-88221-107-5 .
  • Opowiadania zimowe. 2003 (Winter stories; audio book with 3 texts from play on many drums ).
  • Ostatnie historie. 2004.
  • Anna In w grobowcach świata. 2006.
    • Anna In in the catacombs. The myth of the moon goddess Inanna . Translated from the Polish by Esther Kinsky. Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-8270-0727-8 .
  • Bieguni. 2007.
  • Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych. Detective novel . 2009. (In 2017 the novel by Agnieszka Holland was filmed under the title Die Spur ( Pokot )).
  • One moment, niedźwiedzia. 2012 (The moment of the bear, essays).
  • Księgi Jakubowe. 2014 (historical novel about Jakob Joseph Frank and Frankism ).
  • with Joanna Concejo (illustrator): Zgubiona dusza . Picture book. Wydawnictwo Format, Wrocław 2017, ISBN 978-83-61488-743 .
    • The lost soul . Translated from the Polish by Lothar Quinkenstein. Kampa Verlag, Zurich 2020, ISBN 978-3-311-40001-1 .
  • Opowiadania bizarne ( Bizarre stories ). Ten stories. Wydawnictwo Literackie, Krakow 2018, ISBN 978-83-08-06498-6 .
  • Professor Andrews w Warszawie. Wyspa ( Professor Andrews in Warsaw. The Island ). Wydawnictwo Literackie, Krakow 2018, ISBN 978-83-08-06550-1 .


  • 2018: Libretto for the opera in three acts Ahat Ilī - Sister of Gods by Aleksander Nowak based on Anna In w grobowcach świata / Anna In in den Katakomben

Filmography (selection)

  • 1996: Podróże Olgi T., career of Olga Tokarczuk until 1995
  • 2000: Skarb, adaptation of the short story Krysia from: Dom dzienny, dom nocny
  • 2003: Żurek, adaptation of the short story Żurek from: Opowiadania zimowe
  • 2004: Miłości, adaptation of Gra na wielu bębenkach
  • 2007: Aria Diva, adaptation of the story Ariadna na Naksos from: Gra na wielu bębenkach
  • 2011: Zniknięcie, adaptation of the stories Kunicki Woda and Kunicki Ziemia from: Bieguni
  • 2019: Noc v Mariandu (Czech), adaptation of the short story Krysia from: Dom dzienny, dom nocny

As a screenwriter

  • 1998: E. E. , adaptation of the novel E. E.
  • 2017: The Track , based on the novel Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych. Directed by Agnieszka Holland


Web links

Commons : Olga Tokarczuk  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Stowarzyszenie Kulturalne “Góry Babel” | Rejestr.io. Retrieved October 10, 2019 .
  2. Olga Tokarczuk in the Munzinger archive , accessed on October 11, 2019 ( beginning of the article freely available).
  3. a b c Alicja Szałagan: Olga Tokarczuk - Biogram. Retrieved October 2, 2019 (Polish).
  4. Wydawnictwo Ruta. Culture.pl, July 2008, accessed December 9, 2019 (Polish).
  5. ^ Partia Zieloni. Partia Zieloni , May 22, 2018, accessed December 29, 2019 (Polish).
  6. Olga Tokarczuk sets up a foundation. Börsenblatt , October 24, 2019, accessed on October 31, 2019 .
  7. ^ Piotr Jagielski: Kim jest Iryna Vikyrchak, ukraińska poetka i asystentka Olgi Tokarczuk? Onet.pl , October 31, 2019, accessed December 9, 2019 (Polish).
  8. ^ NDR: Olga Tokarczuk's controversial work "The Jacob Books". Retrieved January 3, 2020 .
  9. Marta Kijowska: Olga Tokarczuk's "Jacob's Books": The False Messiah . ISSN  0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed January 3, 2020]).
  10. The Nobel Prizes in Literature for 2018 and 2019. In: nobelprize.org. October 10, 2019, accessed on October 11, 2019 .
  11. 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Peter Handke. In: APA - Austria Press Agency. October 10, 2019, accessed October 10, 2019 .
  12. 40 tys. złotych za replikę nagrody Nobla Olgi Tokarczuk. Co gwiazdy przekazały na WOŚP? In: Onet. December 21, 2019, accessed January 6, 2020 .
  13. Za książkę “Bieguni”. Nagroda Nike dla Tokarczuk ( Memento from October 6, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). In: dziennik.pl, October 5, 2008, accessed October 10, 2019.
  14. Gloria Artis dla Olgi Tokarczuk. Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego, January 29, 2010, accessed October 14, 2019 (Polish).
  15. Nagroda Nike 2015 dla Olgi Tokarczuk. "Księgi Jakubowe" książką roku! In: wyborcza.pl, October 4, 2015.
  16. International Bridge Prize goes to: 2015 - Olga Tokarczuk. In: brueckepreis.de, accessed on October 11, 2019.
  17. Bern: Jan Michalski Literature Prize goes to author Olga Tokarczuk . In: Small newspaper . November 21, 2018 ( kleinezeitung.at ( memento of November 22, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) [accessed October 10, 2019]).
  18. Free travel in Wroclaw for Tokarczuk readers. deutschlandfunk.de , October 12, 2019, accessed on October 14, 2019 .
  19. EBRD Literature Prize - 2019 longlist. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2019, accessed October 25, 2019 .
  20. World Premiere of Ahat Ilī - Sister of Gods. Polish Music Center in Califonia, September 9, 2018, accessed October 22, 2019 .
  21. Podróże Olgi T. filmpolski.pl, 1996, accessed on October 24, 2019 (Polish).