Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk wins Man Booker Prize 2018 for Flights

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk with translator Jennifer Croft

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk with translator Jennifer Croft

Chair of judges Lisa Appignanesi described Tokarczuk as "a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache".

"I would like to also mention that I am the very first victor of this International Man Booker Prize as a Pole, with the Polish language", she said in her acceptance speech, "which I'm very proud [of]". It is for a single work of fiction that has been translated into English and published in Britain in the past year.

"Flights" recounts a sheaf of stories on Tokarczuk's theme, including the 17th century tale of Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg and the 19th century story of Chopin's heart as it makes the covert journey from Paris to Warsaw after his death.

The Man Booker International Prize, a parallel to the traditional Man Booker Prize, started in 2005 as an award for the combined works of foreign-language authors. In 2008, she won the Nike Award, Poland's highest literary accolade, for Flights.

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Tokarczuk is one of Poland's most popular writers but has also been heavily crticized by nationalists for her writing.

Tokarczuk is a bestselling author in Poland, where she has won numerous awards and is a household name. She has been criticised by Polish conservatives and received death threats for criticising aspects of the country's past, including its episodes of anti-Semitism. Other finalists included Iraqi writer Ahmed Saadawi's horror story "Frankenstein in Baghdad" and South Korean author Han Kang's meditative novel "The White Book".

In Flights, she added, Tokarczuk "flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament - where only plastic escapes mortality".

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