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Flights: Nobel Prize and Booker Prize Winner…
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Flights: Nobel Prize and Booker Prize Winner (original 2007; edition 2018)

by Olga Tokarczuk (Author), Jennifer Croft (Translator)

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1,7193910,195 (3.62)105
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 during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller's answer.… (more)
Member:Joe.Olipo
Title:Flights: Nobel Prize and Booker Prize Winner
Authors:Olga Tokarczuk (Author)
Other authors:Jennifer Croft (Translator)
Info:Riverhead Books (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work Information

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (2007)

  1. 00
    Severance: Stories by Robert Olen Butler (Othemts)
  2. 00
    In Transit by Brigid Brophy (Othemts)
  3. 01
    Walking Through Brambles: A Narrative of Circumspection by G W Latimer (MM_Jones)
    MM_Jones: Both are nonlinear works of fiction. One won the Man Booker International prize, the other by an unknown author.
  4. 01
    Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders (Othemts)
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» See also 105 mentions

English (34)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
And, finally, 400+ pages later, I have finished reading Flights. It took longer than I expected or, honestly, would have liked. It is a collection of more than 100 items—some only a few lines long, others taking 30 or more pages—that have two general themes: travel and human anatomy. Tokarczuk is fascinated by every possible aspect of travel, from the mundane details of packing to “travel psychology” and philosophy to one’s fellow passengers, to the actual experience of flying and hotel rooms. She is likewise interested in human anatomy, particularly in what she (or more precisely, her translator) calls plastination, the process whereby a human body (or its parts) is transformed into plastic. Perhaps you have seen these famous exhibits: human bodies where the blood (and/or the organs) have been “replaced” by colored plastic. Tokarczuk is enthralled by the subject and returns to it frequently. Some entries seem to be no more than idle thoughts on a topic; others could well have been abandoned novels. Indeed, several longer entries—especially the one on a famous (real) 17th century Flemish anatomist—are fascinating. Then there is the lengthy story about a Polish family vacationing in Croatia; part one ends on page 51 and part two begins on page 330. Or the story about the afterlife of Chopin’s heart. Or the letters from the daughter of a black servant of Emperor Francis of the Holy Roman Empire begging for the return of her father for burial. The empreror, you see, has taken the body of this servant after his death in 1796, stripped it of its skin, stuffed it, and placed it on display. (This is a true story—although the letters are presumably, Tokarczuk’s invention.) Or the sections entitled “Sanitary Pads.” Or “Belly Dance.” “Airports.” “Cleopatra.” You get the idea. Whatever caught her fancy. Toward the very end is a story of a retired professor where Tokarczuk makes (somewhat clumsy) use of a metaphor to tie the theme of travel to the theme of her interest in anatomy and the body. All in all, I found the book extraordinarily uneven; sometimes fascinating, sometimes unbearably tedious. Though I have to imagine that I am wrong, at times (many more than one), the book seemed more like the convenient gathering of unrelated scraps that could otherwise be of minimal value, stitched together into one somewhat cohesive volume. Make no mistake: Tokarczuk can be a compelling writer. The problem for me in the book was the distinction between her ability to do so and the frequency with which she did so. Some entries are very nearly silly and some downright riveting. The book bounces from greatness to self-indulgence and back, over and over. ( )
  Gypsy_Boy | Feb 16, 2024 |
Someone came up with a name for this sort of memoir-but-also-fiction but I've forgotten. By ordinary standards the book is indescribable. There are short 'essays' on various subjects of interest to the 'narrator' (who is and isn't fictional?) but almost all of these share a common theme: movement, travel, be it in your head or time spent in an airport, or walking somewhere, or staring at a map thinking about going somewhere. In between these are longer 'stories', one about a man whose wife and child walk into a field and disappear while the three are on holiday, about Chopin's heart traveling home from Paris to Warsaw, about Philip Verleyen, who lost a leg in his twenties, and which loss led him to become a foremost anatomist, about the wife of an aging and failing historian on a final cruise in the Aegean. These stories also connect to the theme of movement and perhaps illustrate and deepen the idea attaching them to ways humans experience motion while alive: life/death, body/soul, presence/absence and so forth. Tokarczuk is fearless and I was utterly absorbed. ***** ( )
  sibylline | Feb 8, 2024 |
Really a travel book of sorts. Wonderfully written, interesting vignettes and thoughts or psychology to being in a state of movement-travel-flight. Ones headspace is different. I read about half of the book. I don’t love to travel and I don’t love travel books per se, so 200 pages was all I had to give, but the book is strangely compelling and the stories are so good, it is frustrating that the book flits from story to story. Like being in a moving train, not able to get a fix on any one thing while knowing it’s all very interesting.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
You know what? I don't love it.

The weird thoughts and connections that come through travel are my thing, and I did love many of the small observations and connections that pepper this collection. But woven through those are longer stories, often connected by another theme or repetition of elements. On a more objective level I thought many of these didn't earn their place or justify their length. Subjectively, I didn't trust them. I felt what I sometimes feel in conversation, that there was a flaw in the logic somewhere when I wasn't listening, and now a very energetic speaker is leading me towards a false conclusion. So I'm troubled by these pieces, not because they're often dark but because they don't ring true. And as a detail, I really disliked the NZ pieces and noted some false details.

The good notes, some fascinating moments, unexpected thoughts, reimaginings of planes and circulation in all their forms, curiosity, apathy, travel, some well-structured short stories and interludes, a great and uncommon structure, some excellent writing, sometimes good use of faux-encyclopedic information and myth. Everything that I would love. And a decent end with a bit of resolution, and after all, we didn't wind up somewhere I regretted.

Still it's the very beginning and end that worked best; these are also the stories mentioned in every review I've seen. And now that it's over, what I'm remembering are the landscapes of The Weaver Fish and The Weather Stations, the startling anatomy of Miéville's Three Moments, the stories that have stayed with me. I don't know that anything here will place among them. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
Alcune storie sono molto tristi/commoventi. Altre del tutto incomprensibili, senza inizio/svolgimento/fine. Altre ancora sono solo degli appunti, ricordi. Alcuni contengono fin troppi dettagli minuziosi su come conservare organi e corpi.

Si tratta di un libro frammentario, caotico e organizzato grossolanamente intorno ai temi del viaggio e dell'anatomia.

Perché si intitola Vagabondi? Perché in tutte le storie c'é gente che parte, che se ne scappa, che torna. Nessuno che sta lì dove deve stare, accanto a chi ama e chi gli vuole bene è_è

Uno dei racconti che mi ha lasciato con il punto di domanda e a cui avrei tanto voluto una risposta è quello sulla madre e il figlioletto smarriti misteriosamente su un'isola e il padre che li cerca come un pazzo insieme agli isolani.. questa storia è divisa in tre parti sparpagliate nel libro e il finale semplicemente non c'é. Madre e figlio tornano, ma non sapremo mai dove sono stati davvero, il padre impazzisce come noi poveri lettori nel cercare una risposta.

Una storia molto commevente è quella della donna che torna in Polonia dopo decenni per aiutare il suo primo amore a morire T_T

Poi c'è una storia straziante di una mamma sull'orlo dell'asfissia per la vita che conduce. Marito tornato dalla guerra e del tutto stranito (comprensibile), che però non vuole prendere aiuto e vive in silenzio in un mondo tutto suo; figlioletto gravemente malato con bisogno continuo di cure. Per fortuna i soldi non mancano. Però la vita della madre scorre a una velocità pazzesca ed è scandita minuto per minuto nella cura dei suoi cari e della casa. Ha un giorno libero a settimana e lo usa per tornare più. A me questa sua decisione ha fatto troppo male. Avrei voluto riscrivere il libro, farla tornare da suo figlio.

In linea definitiva posso dire che il libro non mi é piaciuto, a parte qualche paragrafo o 1-2 racconti (quelli citati sopra). ( )
  HelloB | Apr 11, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Olga Tokarczukprimary authorall editionscalculated
Croft, JenniferTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kinsky, EstherTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pauwelijn, GreetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rema MenonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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 during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller's answer.

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