Former Wrocławian Olga Tokarczuk has swept aside death threats and criticism from staunch conservatives to win the Nobel Literature Prize.
The 57-year-old author, who won the Man Booker International Prize last year for her novel ‘Flights’, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature yesterday (postponed due to a Jury scandal).
Tokarczuk studied at the University of Warsaw but moved to Wrocław after her graduation in 1985. She has since left the city, but still lives in Lower Silesia and is no stranger to Wrocław.
She was last seen in the city as recently as last weekend, when she attended the Equality March campaigning for LGBT rights. On top of that, she has received the title of an Honorary Citizen of Wrocław.
As a means of celebrating Tokarczuk’s work, MPK Wrocław have promised free transport to anyone carrying one of her books. The offer lasts until the end of this week.
Olga Tokarczuk was yesterday congratulated by those in the Polish Government and the opposition. PiS’ Culture Minister Piotr Glinski and European Council head Donald Tusk (formerly of PO) were just two of many senior politicians to acknowledge the author’s achievements.
However not everyone in Poland has been impressed by Olga Tokarczuk taking home the priceless literary prize. Tokarczuk’s liberal views, critique of PiS, as well as some controversial comments on Polish history, have seen her end up on the receiving end of some fierce criticism.
Following the release of her novel ‘The Books of Jacob’ , Tokarczuk was quoted as saying Poland had committed “horrendous acts” of colonisation. She was in turn labelled a traitor and even had to hire bodyguards for a while to protect her. “I was very naive. I thought we’d be able to discuss the dark areas in our history,” she told the Guardian back in April 2018.
Another Tokarczuk book, ‘Drive Your Plow’, attracted criticism by conservatives after being brought to the silver screen by Agnieszka Holland. Holland’s film ‘Spoor’ took home the Silver Bear at the 2017 Berlin Intenational Film Festival, however a Polish News Agency journalist called the movie an “anti-Christian film that promoted eco-terrorism.”
That said, following Tokarczuk’s triumphant award win yesterday, some politicians who would normally loathe her work did opt to express praise. Given that the elections are just around the corner, it appears to be a wise move. Public owned television and radio stations have also expressed delight at the news. Even Jarosław Kaczyński himself said he was a fan of ‘The Books of Jacob’.
Unfortunately, not everyone has been so gracious. Last night Tokarczuk’s Wikipedia page was edited to say that she was an “anti-Polish writer”. It has of course been amended since.
For those who wish to learn more about Olga Tokarczuk’s work, please take the time to read her biography on the culture.pl website.