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Jakobove bukve

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,787 ratings  ·  190 reviews
Dobro stoletje po pomorih Hmelnickega, ki še niso potonili v pozabo, se med revnimi podoljskimi Židi, ki čakajo na Mesijev prihod, pojavi mlad prerok iz Smirne in začne glasiti heretične ideje, ki njegovim sledilcem omogočijo nepričakovan družbeni vzpon v svetu neenakosti ter verskih in rasnih predsodkov. »Lažni Mesija« Jakob Frank, nadaljevalec tradicije slovitega Sabataj ...more
Hardcover, 936 pages
Published August 2017 by KUD Police Dubove (first published September 22nd 2014)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,787 ratings  ·  190 reviews

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(unfortunately the English translation is only due November 2021, my review is based on the Dutch translation)
For those who like wide-ranging historical novels, this is the real thing. Tokarczuk immersed herself in 18th-century Greater Poland, which then covered large parts of Eastern Europe. Seen from the West, it was a sort of perifere area, but it stood in intense contact with the Eastern Ottoman Empire, which at that time still controlled almost the entire Balkans. She sketches dozens of cha
Czarny Pies
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with a strong background in Polish Jewish history.
Shelves: polish-lit
In the "Books of Jacob", Olga Tokarczuk reiterates the point made by the great Jewish Theologian Gershom Scholem that study of the Talmud is the very foundation of Judaism. Mystical practices such as Kabbalah have the potential to lead the practitioner into heresy. Unfortunately if one is not interested in becoming a better Jew, Tokarczuk's novel can be quite tedious. The great of success of the "Books of Jacob" is due to the fact that it also recounts the decline and fall of the Polish Commonwe ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poland
4.5. Possibly longer review to come. Tokarczuk goes into more detail than you knew you wanted to know about 18th century Poland, lecturing with the light touch of Eco while occasionally going full Pynchon on us with all the interweaving characters, ideas and (of course) songs. There's a lot of weight in this, and not just physically, but she never makes any parallels or metaphors too overbearing, letting the reader choose how deeply they want to delve into what it all means.

He's not the messiah
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It requires time and many afternoons put aside but it is an amazing 900 pages long adventure into a life of Jakub Frank and group of his followers. Before reading this piece I had honestly no idea about this man and what he has done. I also had no idea that story like that could have happened in Poland! I'm truly fascinated about it! Especially now, when you can hear many voices in Poland screaming "Poland for Poles". They forget or simply don't know that not so long ago we were culturally much ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Winner of the 2015 Nike prize.

Complete Review's announcement (with links) ::

912 pages. TRAN=slate pleaZe!!! [although there does a exist a few of hers trans'd into English]
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2019
I’m not sure I can do justice to this book with any review as it would become very dull with the constant praise. Let me just say that’s this is a joy of a book! Set in a multicultural and multilingual Poland just before the first partition, it tells the true story of Jacob Frank and his anti-Talmudist followers. It weaves in nearly a dozen voices and points of view and takes the reader across many borders. The reading took a long time and I needed to look up this period of Poland’s history for ...more
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This complex, stylistic and content-rich historical novel takes place in the second half of the 18th century, when a group of Jews led by Jacob Frank, decided for religious conversion into Catholicism. A story, based on real events and persons, is a picturesque display of social, especially religious flows that shaped the European continent, incredibly subtle and thoughtful look at the dark side of the history - antisemitism.
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is an Opus Magnum by this incredible, hard working, greatest living Polish writer. Olga Tokarczuk here takes the reader through life of (one of many) self-proclaimed messiah and everyobody around him. Also countries and cultures around him, religions, history, languages and aesthetics. She would never give up on giving you another full-description of Turkish hat Jakub would wear. Each time she goes full on in what she mastered the most - adding her beautiful imagination to some historical eve ...more
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps it is inevitable that one finishes a 900+ page novel, of any quality, feeling like one has had an incredible experience, but I really do think this is a remarkable book, not least for the way it brings together so many strands of history that have typically been actively kept apart by narratives of modernity that can't quite conceptualize them as simultaneous.
It's also just fascinating for its pacing, which is unhurried yet somehow the years fly by. So too, its sense of space, which fe
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most complex, strangest, wonderful books I have ever read. Olga Tokarczuk is a masterful storyteller and her prose flows seemingly effortlessly. Don't be intimidated by the size of this book or its, at least to me, obscure topic. You will soon be consumed by the story and the large, colorful gallery of characters, and after you finish reading it, you will be filled with a sense of accomplishment and joy. ...more

It's a huge book. I took it to my workplace, stowed it inside a sofa and read a little bit of it during lunch breaks, and I was about halfway through when the author got the Nobel Prize.

It was okay. I'm glad I read it, because the topic is fascinating – it's about Jacob Frank (1726-1791), who created a sort of new religion which mixed Christianity and Judaism – but I didn't care that much for the writing. Maybe it's my bias, but the author's decision to use very modern, almost bland language j
Sarah Celebrian
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
It took me almost a year to read it, but to the book's credit I didn't read much last year and strangely enough still remembered what was going on whenever I took to reading again.

It is an incredible story and it is indeed hard to believe it really happened. I savoured the book slowly: I enjoyed all the tiny details of costumes and customs of the times, the story itself (I didn't know anything before about Jakub Frank), the mystical and fantastic elements interwoven with historical events and na
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very impressive
James F
Considered by many to be Tokarczuk's most important work to date, The Books of Jacob is a historical novel about the East European Jewish communities in the second half of the eighteenth century. There is apparently an English translation in progress, scheduled for publication next March, but for now my choices were to read it in French, or in German, or to learn Polish (which I'm probably too old for). Since the French version was about half the price of the German, and I'm already overweighted ...more
Marek Michalak
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This piece of art is very special. It is a book fool of pictures or - rather - paintings. The author creates incredible, vivid and detailed images of life in the 18th century Europe.

The backdrop is the fall of Poland to the three big empires surrounding it, while the main storyline is the rise and fall of the Jewish self-called messiah Jacob Frank and his followers. The book goes into the local politics of several courts, presents viewpoints of multiple characters, studies personal relations, b
It was an intense, religious journey. I gave only 3 stars because I got lost with all characters and it was very hard for me to understand all connections between them. Also I need to read a couple articles about that book to understand it better. But all respect for Olga Tokarczuk for working so hard on this book. I can only imagine how many books she had to read, how many places she had to visit to finish this Nobel prize masterpiece. I will most def come back to this book in future.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel is written with impressive verve and historical precision. Main topic of this book is the person of alleged messiah Jakub Frank. This charismatic and mystic Jewish savant proclaims subversive ideas which quickly becomes a fundament of new religious group, where his person was of the highest importance. The story of this group, its dynamism is presented with great precision and multi perfectively. What make the novel even more interesting and invigorating is interweaving the story Frank ...more
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who am I to review a Nobel prize winner, but since this book is advertised as a novel it could have been much shorter, it feels like an editor would have been beneficial to keep the side trails shorter. Then, on the other hand, I loved being immersed for a month of arduous reading in 18th century Poland following the life of a Jewish messiah cult that preached breaking all laws made by god and mankind to gain eternal life.
Marek Domanski
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing magical literature based on true stories of multicultural society of late 18th century Poland where Christianity, Judaism and Islam blended together.
I am deeply impressed by the story itself and the beautiful language of Olga Tokarczuk.
Thank you very much for this exceptional book. It was like a journey in time for me.
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Central Eastern Europe par excellence - with all the chaos, all the languages, religions and cultures. Great mixture. Great book!
And even though I am a big fan of reading books in the original language, in this case - because of the complexity - I am really happy to have chosen the Czech translation.
Frances Sprei
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a book. So dense, interesting with so many layers, surely many of which I missed. It took some time to read, at times a bit hard to follow with all the characters that also change names. But definitely worthy getting through it.
Bea at Language Cargo
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poland
(Based on the French translation)
Olga Tokarczuk paints a picture, detailed, beautiful and overwhelming, of Jakob Frank's journeys and his teachings between Smyrne (now Izmir in Turkey) and Offenbach in Germany. The book starts in the year 1752 and describes around 40 years of travelling, settling, re-travelling and re-settling of an initially Jewish sect mixing the three monotheistic religions.

The titles of the short chapters alone mention around 50 characters, but there are much more populatin
I truly admire Tokarczuk's style; her way of describing people and places. She told this story in her own unique manner. I am also very glad that the author gave up the idea of Frank being a narrator of this story. It would make him such a terrible Gary Stu; when we see him through the eyes of Nachman or other guys from his squad he seems like a very ambiguous person and it's just so fascinating (ommiting the fact that Frank is an ultimate crush of all the others characters :D )
I've been reading
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterpiece. Absolutely amazing, gripping, fascinating and leaves a reader with a deep feeling of uncertainty and longing. Also reveals a lot about times we usually only have a vague knowledge about. Must read.
Michał Gajewski
Almost a mont's reading but it was worth it! Currently the greatest Polish novel! ...more
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Historic Novel.
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been dying to read this book since 2016 when a Polish writer with a Ukrainian last name, Olga Tokarczuk, came to NY’s PEN world voices festival and I learned about the controversy surrounding this book.

A book about Jewish sect of Jacob Frank is set largely in Podillia - a region of Polish Commonwealth that is now in Ukraine, and which is my ancestral home. I had to wait four years until a translation appeared in Ukrainian, thanks to titanic work of a very talented poet Ostap Slyvynsky.

Asmayani Kusrini
It took me more than a month to read this book, partly because I spent time to linger around its universe, and to devour every description of events, characters, and conversations. And I spent more time to checkout each character if they really existed. Most of the time, they are, and that’s the most fascinating aspect of this book. I must admit, as Indonesian raised in dominantly Muslim culture, the history of Jewish culture is like a history from other dimension in another planet. Let alone a ...more
Robert Narojek
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Opus magnum. Even if we assume that the main characters and some events are not historical (and it is), it still knocks you down. And when we realize that the novel is based on facts, we will not get up from these knees.

One can say that not much is happening in the novel - and yet a lot is going on: weddings, births, funerals, travels, meetings, conversations ... Wonderfully pictured atmosphere of the East (today's Greece, Turkey, Ukraine): smells, flavors, fabrics, dishes ... story. Anyway, it
I would give it more stars if I could. absolutely unbelievable story that kept me intrigued till the very end. I don't even have words to describe the prose itself - and I've just finished the book so I'm still kinda stunned by it - but it's truly masterful. best of Tokarczuk's books I've read so far.

also the way she describes the last decades of Poland before partitions, its people, customs, places! It's so positively different from what we tend to learn in history classes or "classic" books a
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Olga Tokarczuk is one of Poland's most celebrated and beloved authors, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Man Booker International Prize, as well as her country's highest literary honor, the Nike. She is the author of eight novels and two short story collections, and has been translated into more than thirty languages.

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