Olga Nawoja Tokarczuk
was born in the winter of 1962 in Sulechów, Poland and raised in Klenica, in the Lubusz Voivodeship. She graduated from the Cyprian Kamil Norwid secondary school and continued her education at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Warsaw. Already as a student, she worked as a volunteer with people with suffering from mental illnesses. After graduation, she worked as a psychotherapist at a mental health clinic in Wałbrzych.
She published her first short story under the pen name Natasza Borodin in 1979, in a magazine called Na przełaj
. In 1989, a volume of her poetry entitled Miasto w lustrach
[City in Mirrors
] was published in Okolice
. Four years later, Olga Tokarczuk’s debut novel Podróż ludzi Księgi
[The Journey of the People of the Book
] was published by Przedświt
and went on to win the Polish Association of Book Publishers award.
In the following years, she published subsequent novels: E.E.
, the story of an adolescent girl with psychic abilities, and Primeval and Other Times
(1996, translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones), which was warmly received by critics and nominated for Nike Literary Award. It won the Audience Award in the same competition. For this story about a mythical village and its residents, Olga Tokarczuk received also Polityka’s Passport and the Kościelski Award.
In 1997, she published a short story collection Szafa
], and in 1998 the novel House of Day, House of Night
(translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones), very characteristic due to its ‘constellation’ structure, which forms also the axis of the novel Flights
from 2007. The English translation of the latter, by Jennifer Croft, gained international recognition in the form of The Man Booker International Prize in 2018. Apart from the works mentioned above, Olga Tokarczuk published two short story collections: Gra na wielu bębenkach
[Playing Many Drums
] (2001) and Ostatnie historie
] (2004), as well as the novel Anna In w grobowcach świata
[Anna In in the Tombs of the World
] (2006), published as part of the international publishing series Myths, and a crime novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
(2009), which was later adapted for the movie Spoor
directed by Agnieszka Holland. Other publications include Zgubiona dusza
[The Lost Soul
], created together with the eminent illustrator Joanna Concejo (2017), as well as Opowiadania bizarne
] (2018) and a collection of essays Czuły narrator
[The Tender Narrator
] (2020). In 2022, it was the premiere of Olga Tokarczuk's new book Empuzjon
Olga Tokarczuk won Nike Literary Award twice: in 2008 for Flights
and in 2015 for the novel The Books of Jacob
(translated into English by Jennifer Croft), and she received the Nike Audience Award five times: for Primeval and Other Times
(1997), House of Day, House of Night
(1999), Playing Many Drums
(2008) and The Books of Jacob
(2015). The Nobel Prize winner is the recipient of the titles of a Doctor Honoris Causa
from the University of Warsaw
, the Jagiellonian University
and the University of Wrocław in Poland, and also in Sofia and Hong Kong.
Olga Tokarczuk received the Silver Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis
(2010), the Golden Honorary Badge “Merit for the Lower Silesian Voivodship” (2018), the Honorary Badge of the Kłodzko Province (2019) and the Medal of the Polish Senate (2019). She is the Honorary Citizen of the City and District of Bardo (2005), Nowa Ruda (2009), Wrocław (2019), Warsaw (2020) and Cracow (2021).