The Books of Jacob: A Novel
by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft
***🏆 A Five Books Book of the Year ***
Recommendations from our site
“This book is attempting to embrace an entire world and culture, a particular period in Poland and Eastern Europe, and fold it into everything that can be known. It is a maximalist novel in that sense. There’s the theology of it, but also how market garden towns worked, how peasants lived, what beliefs people had and how those were challenged or changed.Both The Books of Jacob and A New Name are dealing with the numinous, a sense of God. But Jacob Frank is an apostate, he’s someone who is prepared to overturn centuries of his own religion in an attempt to create something new. Thanks to Olga—through Jenny—we get to witness this vast pageant of what it means to have lived through that time in Poland. It’s like a very, very large Bayeux Tapestry. But also, what it is to look back on that, given what we know now, because there are outside observers.” Read more...
The Best of World Literature: The 2022 International Booker Prize Shortlist
Frank Wynne, Translator
“Olga Tokarczuk’s masterpiece The Books of Jacob, which was specifically cited when she won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature. It is a thousand-page tome on the life of Jacob Frank, a self-proclaimed messiah in 18th century Poland who declared his followers exempt from moral laws, and encouraged them to break all forms of religious and sexual taboos. It is, inarguably, a daunting prospect, but it’s a worthy reading project for dark winter evenings.” Read more...
Cal Flyn, Journalist