Primeval And Other Times

EU BOOK CLUB - POLAND: "Primeval And Other Times"

Saturday, February 22 - 4:00pm
At the Instituto Italiano di Cultura
(Suite 500-510 W Hastings St)

Olga Tokarczuk was born in 1962 in Sulechów near Zielona Góra, Poland. A recipient of all of Poland's top literary awards, she is one of the most critically acclaimed authors of her generation. After finishing her psychology degree at the University of Warsaw, she initially practiced as a therapist and often cites C.G. Jung as an inspiration for her work, in which mythmaking has become a hallmark. Since the publication of her first book in 1989, a collection of poems, Tokarczuk has published ten volumes of stories, novellas, and novels, and one book-length essay(on Boleslaw Prus's novel The Doll. In English her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, as has her novel House of Day, House of Night. In 1998 Tokarczuk moved to a small village near the Czech border and now divides her time between there and Wroclaw. For her latest novel, Bieguni [The Runners], she received Poland's top book award, the Nike Prize, in 2008.

Tokarczuk's third novel, Primeval and Other Times (Prawiek i inne czasy) (1996) was awarded the Koscielski Foundation Prize in 1997, which established the author as one of the leading voices in Polish letters. It is set in the mythical Polish village of Primeval, which is populated by eccentric, archetypal characters. The village, a microcosm of Europe and the world, is guarded by four archangels, from whose perspective the novel chronicles the lives of Primeval's inhabitants over the course of the feral 20th century. In prose that is forceful and direct, the narrative follows Poland's tortured political history from 1914 to the contemporary era and the episodic brutality that is visited on ordinary village life. Yet Primeval and Other Times is a novel of universal dimension that does not dwell on the parochial. A stylized fable as well as epic allegory about the inexorable grind of time, the clash between modernity (the masculine) and nature (the feminine), it has been translated into most European languages.
Tokarczuk has said of the novel: "I always wanted to write a book such as this. One that creates and describes a world. It is the story of a world that, like all things living, is born, develops, and then dies." Kitchens, bedrooms, childhood memories, dreams and insomnia, reminiscences, and amnesia — these are part of the existential and acoustic spaces from which the voices of Tokarczuk's tale come, her "boxes in boxes."

Primeval and Other Times is available in English at Chapters (online or order it in store), both hardcopy and e-version.

Admission is free, but please register by e-mail: