Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've been reading this book off and on for two months, finally finishing it before the end of Women in Translation month - I wouldn't really call this a novel as much as it is fragments with some shared themes. I enjoyed some of the writing and was glad one of the stories came back to conclude in the end. There are themes of travel, moving, death, relationships and what you can/can't control, and home.
Flights won the Man Booker International Prize that awards the author and translator equally, so I should say I rarely thought about how this was originally Polish, except for some obvious Polish themes... That's to the great credit of the translator, Jennifer Croft.
A few of the bits I marked:
"There are countries out there where people speak English. But not like us - we have our own languages hidden in our carry-on luggage, in our cosmetics bags, only ever using English when we travel, and then only in foreign countries, to foreign people. It's hard to imagine, but English is their real language! Oftentimes their only language. They don't have anything to fall back on or to turn to in moments of doubt. How lost they must feel in the world, where all instructions, all the lyrics of all the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures - even the buttons in the elevator! - are in their private language. They may be understood by anyone at any moment, whenever they open their mouths. They must have to write things down in special codes. Wherever they are, people have unlimited access to them - they are accessible to everyone and everything!"
"What [the tyrants] want is to create a frozen order, to falsify time's passage. They want for the days to repeat themselves, unchanging: they want to build a big machine where every creature will be forced to take its place and carry out false actions... What they want is to pin down the world... Move. Get going. Blessed is he who leaves."
"All you have to do to become invisible is be a woman of a certain age."
View all my reviews