Tokarczuk Named Winner of a Swedish Literary Award

  • Olga Tokarczuk, photo by Krzysztof Dubiel

Olga Tokarczuk and Jan Henrik Swahn, translator of The Books of Jakub into Swedish, were named winners of the first edition of the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern (House of Culture and City Theater) International Literary Award in Stockholm.  

The award, given to the author of a work translated into Swedish and its translator, will be presented in early January next year. The winners receive 75,000 (Tokarczuk) and 25,000 (Swahn) Swedish kronas. The aim of the award is to single out a “brilliant literary work in an excellent Swedish translation.″ The jury’s statement reads: “This is a dazzling novel about a charismatic preacher, the Jew Jakub Frank, who lived in Poland in the seventeenth century, and whose teachings polarized the Jewish people. Olga Tokarczuk uses many narrative forms to paint a splendid picture of both the epoch and the people living in those times and their ideas. Jan Henrik Swahn has masterfully rendered the book into the Swedish language.″

“I am very happy, and I also hope that Jan Henrik [Swahn] is proud of himself. He worked on this translation persistently, for several hours a day. I feel as though I’ve received the Nobel Prize,” said Tokarczuk at the Kulturhuset Stadsteaterns.

The mention of the Nobel for literature is no accident here, perhaps – Tokarczuk has been in the group of people named as potential winners of the world’s most important literary award for several years now. The writer received the Nike Award last year, as well as a Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Award. The novel was also nominated for the Angelus Central European Literary Award.