When Olga Tokarczuk was belatedly awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature in 2019, the Swedish Academy specifically mentioned one of her works as her magnum opus. That book was Ksiegi Jakubowe, her ninth novel and the book that earned her her second Nike Award. However, the book was not available in English until 2021. Jennifer Croft, the same translator who worked on her 2007 novel, Bieguni, (published as Flights in 2018), worked on translating this labyrinthine work, titled The Books of Jacob. It is a complex work but nevertheless, it was immersive. It is easily one of my favorite reads of 2021, perhaps all-time. For this quotable quote update, I am sharing some lines and passages from this masterpiece that have left an impression on me.
Do check out my complete review of this literary work by clicking here.
“When you look at the world as good, then evil becomes the exception, somehting missed, sometimes mistaken – and nothing suits you. But if you were to switch it around – say the world is evil, while good is the exception, then everything works out elegantly, understandably. Whe don’t we want to see what is obvious?”~ Olga Tokarczuk, The Books of Jacob
“Let him be cursed by day and cursed by night. Cursed when he goes to bed and when he gets up, when he enters his home and when he leaves it. May you never forgive him, Lord, and may you never recognize him! May your anger burn from here on out against this man, may you weigh him down with all your curses, and may his name be erased from the Book of Life. We warn all never to exchange a word with him, in conversation or in writing, never to grant him any favors, never to be under one roof with him, not to be within four cubits of him, and not to read any document dictated by him or written in his hand.”~ Olga Tokarczuk, The Books of Jacob
“Because in real life, unlike in history books, stories come to us not in their entirety but in bits and pieces, broken segments and partial echoes, a full sentence here, a fragment there, a clue hidden in between. In life, unlike in books, we have to weave our stories out of threads as fine as the gossamer veins that run through a butterfly’s wings.”~ Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees
“Religions, laws, books, and old customs have all been worn out. He who reads those old books and observes those laws and customs, it’s as if he’s always facing backward and yet he must move forward. That is why he will stumble and ultimately fail since everything that has been has come from the side of death. A wise man, meanwhile, will look ahead, through death, as thous this were merely a muslin curtain, and he will stand outside of life.”~ Olga Tokarczuk, The Books of Jacob
“To be impatient means never really living, being always in the future, in what will happen, but which is after all not yet here. Do not impatient people resemble spirits who are never here in this place, and now, in this very moment, but rather sticking their heads out of life like those wanderers who supposedly, when they found themselves at the end of the world, just looked onward, beyond the horizon? What did they see there? What is it than an impatient person hopes to glimpse?”