WARSAW – The latest book by Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk to be translated into English is a departure for the celebrated Polish author.
“The Lost Soul,” which comes out this week in the U.S., is a poetic story of a man who loses his soul in the daily rush and can only regain it in a very special way. The book has many meanings, also inspired by its nostalgic, meditative drawings by Polish artist Joanna Concejo.
It is Tokarczuk's “experiment with form” and the first time her words have been merged with illustrations by someone else to produce a picture book. She says it has produced a surprisingly new, amplified value that, she hopes, will attract readers of various ages and backgrounds.
“I was fascinated ... by the effect of cooperation of two totally different people,” said Tokarczuk, who usually works alone.
“It gives more than just the sum of text and drawings. There appears a value through which we read the text in a different way and we also see the drawings in a different way than if they had stood alone. To me, this is a kind of mystery,” Tokarczuk told The Associated Press.
Concejo's drawings tell an independent story, inspired by Tokarczuk's text but built around a pair of children's gloves kept together by a string.
When the string breaks, the gloves get separated, just as happened to the man in Tokarczuk's text and his soul, said Concejo, who has also done cover drawings for the Polish editions of the writer's most recent books.
Tokarczuk believes there is no single interpretation of the book and readers will be seeing it in “different ways, will be using different words to name it. This is the miracle of literature.”