Riverhead has released a newly translated statement from Olga Tokarczuk, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature this week. “Olga had been unreachable for most of the day yesterday,” wrote Claire McGinnis, Riverhead’s Associate Director of Publicity, in an email, “due to a previously scheduled event at a Polish library—located in a tiny, remote town but long-term fervent supporters of her work—so she did not want to cancel on them!” I think it’s fair to say: aw.
Here’s the statement from Tokarczuk:
I first learned that I had won the Nobel prize in the oddest circumstances—on the motorway, somewhere “In Between,” at a place with no name. I can’t think of a better metaphor to define the world we’re living in today. Nowadays we writers are having to confront ever more improbable challenges, and yet literature is a slow-moving art—the lengthy process of writing makes it difficult to catch the world in the act. I often wonder if it’s still possible to describe the world at all, or if we’re already too helpless in the face of its increasingly fluid shape, the dissolving of fixed points and disappearing values.
I believe in a literature that unites people and shows us how very similar we are, that makes us aware of the fact that we’re all joined together by invisible threads. That tells the story of the world as if it were a living and unified whole, constantly developing before our eyes, in which we are just a small but at the same time powerful part.
My congratulations to Peter Handke for his Nobel prize. I’m very pleased that we both come from the same part of the world.
Others, of course, have had less neutral things to say about Handke.