24/7 Live News Portal

Olga Tokarczuk, invents narratives and rescues the female gaze


The disorder as a way of describing. That is the bet of the Polish Olga Tokarczuk (1962), Nobel Prize in Literature 2018, announced in 2019. “I think in the form of stories. We perceive reality through narratives. I think it is the best way to understand what is going on around us. Perhaps it is a quality of our mind, we connect things, we plot, we plot, we create stories, “he said.

The poet, novelist and essayist admitted that, sometimes, the story is not capable of transmitting what is in the language, in the ideas. “So the most perfect way to tell a story is mixing it with phrases, with the tongue, to remember that we still have one, it is strong muscle.”

The author of The Wanderers, considered his masterpiece, winner of the Man Booker International 2018, On the bones of the dead and The books of Jacob reflected on its literature, Central European identity and Polish culture in a conference broadcast yesterday in the virtual edition of the Hay Festival Querétaro.

I like unusual literature, because it gives us the possibility to look from different points of view. That is the miracle of literature: putting us together in the same crucible of reality and that crucible changes all the time, “he added.

Who published his first book, the collection of poems The city in mirrors, in 1989 said that the written literature in the countries of central Europe is different.

Central European culture does not trust reality, because our world is more fluid, unstable, borders vary. Everything is mobile, even our identity. That is why I owe a lot to Franz Kafka ”.

He stressed that the best example of his literary proposal is The Wanderers (Bieguni, in Polish), the name used to designate a sect that existed in 17th-century Russia. “It is not a common word in the Polish vocabulary, it is hardly used. But its root is related to escape, flee. The members of this sect say that you can only be a good believer if you are constantly on the move. That the devil is always trying to catch you, to lock you up somewhere. The good deed is to be in motion, physically and mentally, ”he explained.

The also author of stage adaptations defined The Wanderers like a constellation novel. “I realized that we continue with the old regime of linear storytelling of the 19th century. That no longer works. We live a different reality, we jump from one computer window to another. Today our life is very fragmented. We have to invent another way to describe the meanings of this type of experience. “

He confessed that his first attempt with this structure was Daytime house, nighttime house (1998). “There was a time when I was very traveling. And I thought it was useless to use those old ways to describe the trips, the memories, the diaries, the linear stories where I am and where I am going.

So, I invented a structure through metaphors. I discovered that we do not perceive the stars as a chaotic constellation, which is what they are, but we project our own internal order onto them. I wanted to prepare for the reader a constellation of stories, associations, phrases, images, and show them with the confidence that they were an exchange of ideas, “he said.

The psychologist graduated from the University of Warsaw added that in The Wanderers the narrator is a key piece. “It’s not me, but it has a lot of data taken from my biography. It’s the only mind we can trust in the midst of that madness. “


Tokarczuk confessed that, since she was a child, she knew that her life would have something to do with literature. “It was very present in my childhood. I used to read. My parents were teachers, so there was a good library at home. I was on a kind of reading diet. Not in alphabetical order, but from shelf to shelf. I would start a book and finish it after a few days, and move on to the next and the next. “

He said that as a teenager he decided that this would be his true life. “It was then that I tried to write for the first time. I started writing poetry, of course, like everyone else. In Poland, in particular, poetry carries a lot of weight. I read that in the country there are about 300 thousand people who write poetry. It is a very Polish trade, yes. And, of course, we have two Nobel Poets for Literature ”.

The author of Lost soul and Bizarre tales He narrated that, although he studied psychology, he changed his mind. “I decided to be a psychotherapist, until I realized during psychotherapy that I was more upset than my clients. And then I quit. After my second title, The journey of the men of the book, I decided to dedicate myself to literature. It was a brave decision, I had a son, but now I can live off my writing ”.

The narrator indicated that, at first, she felt that she belonged to a generation fed up with politics. “At the beginning of the 90s we believed that politics was finished, that it would be the end of history. We wrote in a way introverted and intimateWe were looking for our own experiences. But later we saw that politics was everywhere and it can affect all aspects of your life ”.

He concluded that now, when he thinks about politics, he proposes “small actions”, as when he worked in various archives and libraries, to write a historical novel of the 17th century, and he realized that there were no testimonies of women in the history of Poland. “No one can believe that history was possible without women. Then I knew that finding them was my duty, to change our perception of the past ”.