November Read: Flights

This week’s read: Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, who in 2019 was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature. The original Polish title refers to runaways (beguny), a sect of Old Believers, who believe that being in constant motion is a trick to avoid evil. Set between the 17th and 21st centuries, the novel is a philosophical rumination on modern-day travel and is structured as a series of vignettes, some fictional, and some based on fact – among them Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen’s discovery of the achilles tendon, and the story of Ludwika Jędrzejewicz, the sister of the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, transporting his heart back to Warsaw. My favorite quote: “Standing there on the embankment, staring into the current, I realized that – in spite of all the risks involved – a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that change will always be a nobler thing than permanence; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity.” Read more about or purchase at Amazon.

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