[The novel] recounts the hard passage of an imaginary village through a century of conflict, distant coups and decay ... Overlooking all is a vain selfish God who has become thoroughly bored with mankind and who must play second fiddle in Ms Tokarczuk's pantheistic world to material things... --The Economist
From odds and ends of real history Tokarczuk builds a myth, i.e., a history with a rigid order, where all the events, including the bad and tragic ones, have their reasons for happening. She organizes space according to the model of the mandala -- a circle drawn inside a square, which is the geometrical image of perfection and completion. --Gazeta Wyborcza
In this epic novel Olga Tokarczuk has drawn on the tradition of magic realism to create a world permeated with ancient myths as much as it is firmly rooted in the present. --Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The author draws the reader into a sadistic world that is described in a language that is crystalline and pure as water from a well. --De Morgen
Olga Tokarczuk's myth of "Primeval" is far from simplistic. She is not satisfied with merely glossing traditional mythical narratives, and we will not find many of these in her novel. Her method is more sophisticated. Perhaps we would do well to recall that wonderful Polish tradition of "mythmaking," as in the works of Bruno Schulz and Boleslaw Lesmian, where the mythical perception of the world takes precedence over simply presenting the memes of myth, as it were, which are meant to point to readymade archetypes.
--Lidove noviny (Prague)
About the Author
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 nine 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.