I Absorb Stories
Olga Tokarczuk – one of the most important Polish writers of her generation – here shares how she draws inspiration from others: “People tell amazing micro-stories or even bigger stories. I seize them, absorb them and transform them in my books.”
In her novel ‘Flights’, the main characters travel a lot by plane and the airport consequently becomes “a pole around which the whole story revolves.” Tokarczuk wanted to examine the phenomenon of modern traveling, which she finds affects the psyche of the traveller: “We take a sort of leap in space and find ourselves in places in which we are disoriented at first. So it resembles a journey in seven-league boots.” In continuation of this, the structure of the stories in the novel resembles the non-linear process of travelling as well as the turmoil of it. She made it in the form of a “constellation novel,” echoing the way we project orderly structure to the chaos of stars in the sky: “To give the reader plenty of material, lots of separate narratives and stories but yet connected to each other. So that readers link them in their own way.”
Listening to other people’s stories is Tokarczuk’s greatest inspiration, and she feels that she owes a great deal to her background in psychology and her work as a clinical psychologist – a time where she dis-covered that “everyone’s life is a novel waiting to be written. If we somehow could only get to their essence, we could extract unbelievable stories from their lives.” Moreover, she feels that finding unusual perspectives can influence our everyday perception of things and make us regard them differently.
Olga Tokarczuk (b. 1962) is a Polish writer. She has written several novels, a collection of poems, as well as books with shorter prose works. Among her novels are ‘Primeval and Other Times’ (1996), ‘House of Day, House of Night’ (1998), ‘Flights’ (2008), ‘The Books of Jacob’ (2014) and ‘Flights’ (2017). Tokarczuk is the recipient of multiple awards including the Nike Award in 2008 and 2015. Tokarczuk is also the recipient of the German-Polish International Bridge Prize (2015).
Olga Tokarczuk was interviewed by Marie Tetzlaff in August 2016 in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in Denmark.
Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017
Supported by Nordea-fonden