On the first of June, Olga Tokarczuk’s latest novel Empuzjon appeared in Polish bookstores. This is her first book after receiving the Nobel Prize in 2019 and expectations and emotions were high. From the first reviews, it is clear that this novel will expand the circle of admirers of Tokarczuk’s work.
What do we know? The novel is set in 1913, when Mieczysław Wojnicz, suffering from tuberculosis, comes to a small health-resort in Lower Silesia. From the very first pages it becomes clear that strange and disturbing things are happening in the guesthouse and its immediate surroundings, and the sequence of accidents that happen to the residents builds a sense of dread. The residents of the spa make friends and have lively discussions about the situation in Europe (will war break out?) and about the position of women in society, and the arguments they put forward sound surprisingly contemporary. However, there is a growing feeling that they are being watched and someone or something is trying to infiltrate their world. Maybe it is already there.
What we have, then, is an excellent novel which combines the best features of fiction with elements of horror and, as Tokarczuk does, with philosophical reflection and references to socially important issues. It is a multidimensional novel about us and our times, responding to the fears, questions, and dilemmas of contemporary man. The most interesting always remains in the shadows, in what is invisible.
The book in its original version will soon appear in the Polish section of the OBA library. We can already reveal that the author of the Dutch translation will be Karol Lesman, who is rightly called the ambassador of Polish literature in the Netherlands and who has done excellent translations of texts by, among others, Zbigniew Herbert, Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz. He has also translated other previous books by Olga Tokarczuk, House of day, House of night and The Books of Jacob.
We will, of course, inform you about the Dutch premiere of Empuzjon, hopefully soon!