Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk's art book hits bookstores

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 file photo, Polish writer and Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk reacts to the media during a press conference in Duesseldorf, Germany. The Lost Soul, a unique art book with text by Nobel-winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk about a man who loses his soul in the daily rush, hits bookstores in the United States this week. In her first visual collaboration, Tokarczuk had a compact, pensive text merged with nostalgic drawings by a Polish illustrator. She says that produced a surprisingly new, amplified value that can be read on very many levels by children and adults alike. First published in Poland in 2017, the hardcover book originated from a private ceremony text intended for one person. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 file photo, Polish writer and Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk reacts to the media during a press conference in Duesseldorf, Germany. The Lost Soul, a unique art book with text by Nobel-winning Polish author Olga Tokarczuk about a man who loses his soul in the daily rush, hits bookstores in the United States this week. In her first visual collaboration, Tokarczuk had a compact, pensive text merged with nostalgic drawings by a Polish illustrator. She says that produced a surprisingly new, amplified value that can be read on very many levels by children and adults alike. First published in Poland in 2017, the hardcover book originated from a private ceremony text intended for one person. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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.”