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Flights

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  5,024 ratings  ·  699 reviews
A seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist discovers the Achilles tendon by dissecting his own amputated leg. Chopin's heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish duri ...more
Hardcover, 403 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by Riverhead Books (first published September 2007)
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Jodi There's a Man Booker Prize for Fiction AND a Man Booker International Prize. Two distinct competitions. Flights won the International Prize. You can…moreThere's a Man Booker Prize for Fiction AND a Man Booker International Prize. Two distinct competitions. Flights won the International Prize. You can read about the Man Bookers here: https://themanbookerprize.com/ (less)

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3.82  · 
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 ·  5,024 ratings  ·  699 reviews


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Hugh
Now the winner of the Man Booker International prize 2018, which was well deserved.

This is my third book from the Man Booker International prize shortlist and might just be my new favourite book of the year so far.

Whether or not this is a novel is debatable. It is more of an uncategorisable mixture of 116 short pieces varying in length from a single sentence to over 30 pages. On the whole the longer pieces are short stories and the shorter ones thoughts, observations and quirky pieces of scien
...more
Fionnuala
In the profusion of images and metaphors that make up this book, one image stands out.
That I'm now using it as an opening for the review is apt, because the image I'm thinking of is a line, as in the first stroke a pen makes on a blank sheet of paper.
Or the line made by a jet stream, dividing the sky in two.
Or the stroke made by an anatomist's scalpel on virgin skin.
Or indeed the line made by the shadow that splits the earth into daytime and nightime, bright time and dark time.

It's no surpr
...more
Amalia Gavea
‘’Each of my pilgrimages aims at some other pilgrim. In this case the pilgrim is in pieces, broken down.’’

This might very well be the first time that I have no clear ‘’picture’’ in my head regarding this review. Flights is the winner of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize and this is one of those cases where the verb ‘’like’’ and its negative form can’t retain any significant meaning. So be patient with me while I am trying to -clumsily- explain the impact Flights had on me.

In a magnificen
...more
Michael
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
My review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, also can be found on my blog.

An essayistic work of fiction about travel, anatomy, and time, Flights meditates on what it means to embrace wandering as a way of life. A few lengthy stories about travelers and migrants comprise the bulk of the collection, but between these the author intersperses many short sketches, essays, anecdotes, and facts. Some have taken issue with the shorter pieces, but I found both kinds of work to be hit or miss. In s
...more
Paul Fulcher
Now the winner of the Shadow Man Booker International Prize from a panel of reviewers and bloggers, including myself, and also winner of the official Man Booker International Prize. Highly recommended:

Throughout this beautiful chaos, threads of meaning spread in all directions, networks of strange logic.
...
His eyes attentively probe their constellations, positionings, the directions they point in, the shapes they make.


Flights published by perhaps the UK’s finest publisher, Fitzcarraldo Editions
...more
Canadian
Rating: 2.5

This is a book that demands a lot of mental work and, at slightly more than 400 pages, a considerable time investment. While I don’t exactly regret reading it—which is something, I suppose, I was far less impressed with it than most. I’d like to have more to show for my time than I do. This is a fragmented, chaotic, and even careless book roughly organized around the topics of travel and anatomy. As advertised, it is not a traditional or conventional novel—perhaps not a novel at all.
...more
Vanessa
A philosophical meditation in anatomy, time and travel, all three are intrinsically linked throughout. The book is filled with odd stories and even stranger characters. Although some of the stories really trigger some emotional responses, this book did feel “heavy”. There’s lots to digest here. It was most definitely a slog at times. I often caught myself absent mindedly reading. Not a good sign :/ I did rather enjoy the brief snippets of passages where the author concentrated on the musings and ...more
Elyse Walters
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook: read by Julia
Whelan

Winner of the Man Booker Prize
This is my first book by Oga Tokarczuk - a Polish author.

The stories gave me the visuals of roaming — traveling without a permanent plan - yet wishing for inner peace - and tribal connections.

The blurb tells of the nitty-gritty-specifics.....
me: I enjoyed Julia Whelan’s voice - picking up on emotions - just letting my imagination sync with the stories.

I was reminded of my travel days — wondering streets of Tel Aviv... or Afghanistan
...more
Sidharth Vardhan
"Age all in your mind. Gender grammatical. I actually buy my books in paperback, so that I can leave them without remorse on the platform, for someone else to find. I don’t collect anything."

This book can be a kind of bible for the people with restless legs - people whose biggest fear that they will have to spend all their life in one place; to whom travel is the religion, road is the home and their own house merely a comfortable hotel. The narrator is one such person:

"Standing there on the e
...more
Gumble's Yard
Am I doing the right thing be telling stories? Wouldn’t it be better to fasten the mind with a clip, tighten the reins and express myself not by means of stories and histories, but with the simplicity of a lecture, where in sentence after sentence a single though gets clarified, and then others are tacked onto it in the succeeding paragraphs. I could use quotes and foot notes …. I would be the mistress of my own text …. As it is I’m taking on the role of midwife, or of the tender of a garden wh
...more
Neil
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Standing there on the embankment, staring into the current, I realized that – in spite of all the risks involved – a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that change will always be a nobler thing than permanence; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity."

Flights won Poland’s biggest literary prize in 2008. It’s Polish title is Bieguni which speaks more to the themes of the book than th
...more
Tony
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you need labels, you might wonder what to call this: a novel, a fiction, a farrago? But this is too special for labels. Think instead that your whole life has been a journey. A reading journey, yes; but also a ledger of acquisitions and of lost things. At another - this – intersection, you find . . .

A mind for charades, a mind that employed citations and cross-references like knife and fork. A rational and discursive mind, lonely and sterile. A mind that seemed to be aware of everything, even
...more
Antonomasia
A very 00s, pre-recessionary book. I daresay that's part of the reason for its recent success in the world of English-translated literary prizes. It must be a break from current political stresses for many judges and readers, evoking a liberal prelapsarian time when it never occurred to middle-class frequent travellers with an internationalist outlook that not everyone aspired to or admired their way of life - and when there weren't the grinding financial worries that would emerge for so many in ...more
Meike
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, poland
Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2018
DNF @ 31% - stop throwing confetti at me!!
"Flights" is a meditation on travel, in a literal and a metaphorical sense. The book encompasses 116 very different texts, thus employing a typical modernist composition technique: The reader gains significant power because whoever looks at this narrative mosaic will fill the gaps with different meanings and find/create particular connections, so the final work of art naturally encorporates the contributi
...more
Beata
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bieguni (Flights) is an unusual novel ... Some parts are most amazing and I simply couldn't put Bieguni down, though I admit the beginning was not easy. The idea of constant movement, flights, journeys ...
Rebecca
Olga Tokarczuk is one of the leading contemporary Polish authors; she has written nine novels along with short story collections and essays, and she won Poland’s premier literary award, the Nike, for Flights in 2008. Now available in Jennifer Croft’s English translation via Fitzcarraldo Editions, this is an odd hybrid of a novel, composed of miniature, headed stories and observations about travel and displacement in the modern world – and all illustrated with odd black-and-white maps and line dr ...more
Warwick
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, travel
This should have been a winner. A book all about the creative possibilities of travel, mixing writer's notebooks, microfiction, and bursts of historical commentary? Count me in!

Like Olga Tokarczuk, I am someone who has never been good at putting down roots, and I strongly related to her early credo: ‘My energy derives from movement – from the shuddering of buses, the rumble of planes, trains' and ferries' rocking.’ And I also share, with her, the (completely unjustified) sense of the redemptive
...more
Justin Evans
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A double review: 'House of Day, House of Night' and 'Flights.'

I finally got around to reading 'House of Day, House of Night' on a friend's recommendation, after reading Tokarczuk 'Flights,' which is somehow even better. I'm baffled as to why this kind of form hasn't made its way into English-language writing, except in the most self-important and portentous way: a compendium of memoir (whether actual or purely formal), short stories, essays, research, tall tales, local history and so on, all of
...more
Jonathan Pool
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international
I had not expected to warm to Flights as much as I did. Its impact on me increased the further into the book I progressed.
A series of very short observations sandwich a number of longer essays; the majority of which have thematic continuity.
How many of us say we like “people watching” as we sit in a coffee shop? Flights, with its itinerant core, is a literary people watch.
I read Flights because of its Man Book International shortlisting. I thought it was the best of the 2018 shortlist, and it’s
...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This was a challenging book, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I saw this as not so much a novel as a presentation of a theory in the form of fiction, much in the vein of Kafka, who she makes allusions to in the text. She seems to be putting forth a theory of time that depends on movement through space-that time is not linear but a group of segments represented by each of the spaces occupied by a body at any given time. She invites the reader to sit in the center of the panopticon from where she can ...more
·Karen·
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: polish, best-of-2018
“Barbarians don’t travel. They simply go to destinations or conduct raids.”

The Three Pilgrim's Questions: country of origin, last place visited, place of destination.

That encapsulates it. Where are you from? Really? What mix of genetic material and experience forms your make up? Where have you just arrived from, what do you have to tell about the place you have been, what did you see, what did you note, what will you remember? And where are we going?

Good-humoured, witty, intelligent, expansive,
...more
Ken
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
In a word (or 400 pages): hodgepodge. Do you like shepherd's pie? Everything but the kitchen sink? Welcome to Flights, winner of that man Booker's International Award. I got it because, well, Poland! Enough said!

In sum, this is a mix of fictional excerpts (almost, but not quite, short stories) surrounded by a constellation of, er, essays and letters and factoids and journal entries and ruminations and hodges and podges. So there.

If that might be too unfocused for you, save yourself the flight. I
...more
Robert Wechsler
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: othereuro-lit
Another collection of stories (as opposed to a story collection) along the lines of House of Day, House of Night, except that this book is, for the most part, about motion rather than place and, therefore, is more thematically joined (especially if one considers that we can be in motion only with our bodies, which constitute the secondary theme, often combined with travel).

This is another amazing, tightrope work of fiction (mixed with narrative, historical nonfiction), but its stories did not, o
...more
Katia N
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think my reading taste is becoming too conventional. I liked “Lincoln in Bardo”, the last year Man Booker Winner. And I really like this. It is a wonderful book. It is a novel-kaleidoscope, structured through the fragments of the text, not linearly related, but while combined, the whole picture is shining trough. This concept has been used before. I am surprised no-one compares her work to Milorad Pavić or even Daša Drndić. In her case she uses this vehicle to think about the modern travel. Ho ...more
Janet
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having loved Tokarczuk’s House of Day, House of Night, a novel in fragments, I was looking forward to this new book, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, which just won the International Booker Prize, and is, at the moment, a finalist for the National Book Award’s Translated Literature prize.

But I had not expected such different book from House of Day.. This is a literary firestorm, 120 or so stories or essays or ‘pieces’ that thematically link around the subject of flight, of travel and m
...more
Marianne
“I was unable to concentrate and became for some time a sort of gargantuan ear that listened to murmurs and echoes and whispers, far-off voices that filtered through the walls. But I never became a real writer. Life always managed to elude me. I’d only ever find its tracks, the skin it sloughed off. By the time I had determined its location, it had already gone somewhere else. And all I’d find were signs that it had been there, like those scrawlings on the trunks of trees in parks that merely ma ...more
Mag
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: polish
This is an excellent Polish novel. It’s thoroughly modern and engaging. It reflects the mobility and transience of our contemporary life. The frame for it is travelling: airports, different places around the globe- unnamed yet recognizable and sometimes just nowhere in particular yet everywhere. The structure is fragmentary- short, few page long snippets, images, fragments of narration of accidental meetings of fellow travellers, their stories, stories of places. The structure reflects the fragm ...more
Czarny Pies
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who see life as a pilgrim journey
Shelves: polish-lit
In rhe eyes of Olga Tokarczuk, life is just a Jewish pilgrimage. When you arrive there is nothing but a blank wall to stare at which point you must choose a new destination in order to preserve your mental stability.
"Flights" appears at first view to be a Borgesian anthology of riddles. In fact Olga Tokarczuk who is a clinical psychologist has written a coherent novel about everyman's struggle to find direction in an unstructured reality.
Given her professional status her literary games border o
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Almost dnf'd at p15.

Skim=read the rest.

Is going in the to=sell stack.

Will cancel my order for Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead. Still willing to risk Księgi Jakubowe.

Booker Award declines further in my estimation.

You folks with the 4/5 stars ; what you smoking?
Text Publishing
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
‘Tokarczuk is one of Europe’s most daring and original writers, and this astonishing performance is her glittering, bravura entry in the literature of ideas…Flights is an international, mercurial, and always generous book, to be endlessly revisited.’
LA Review of Books

‘Travel writing usually presents a linear narrative—as departures and returns easily correspond with beginnings and endings. But Tokarczuk complicates this. Her characters, like the book’s episodic structure, resist neat demarcatio
...more
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Olga Tokarczuk is a Polish writer, essayist, activist and public intellectual who has been described as one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful authors of her generation. In 2018, she won the Man Booker International Prize for her novel Flights, becoming the first Polish writer to do so.
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“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 the 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 lurics of all the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures - even the buttons in the lift! - are in their private language. They may be understood by anuone 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! I heard there are plans in the works to get them some little language of their own, one of those dead ones no one else is using anyway, just so that for once they can have something just for them.” 10 likes
“This is why tyrants of all stripes, infernal servants, have such deep-seated hatred for the nomads - this is why they persecute the Gypsies and the Jews, and why they force all free peoples to settle, assigning the addresses that serve as our sentences.
What they 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. Institutions and offices, stamps,newsletters, a hierarchy, and ranks, degrees, applications and rejections, passports, numbers, cards, elections results, sales and amassing points, collecting, exchanging some things for others.
What they want is to pin down the world with the aid of barcodes, labelling all things, letting it be known that everything is a commodity, that this is how much it will cost you. Let this new foreign language be illegible to humans, let it be read exclusively by automatons, machines. That way by night, in their great underground shops, they can organize reading of their own barcoded poetry.

Move. Get going. Blesses is he who leaves.”
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