Writer in Residence Programme 2007

Olga Tokarczuk in Amsterdam

1 Jan-1 April 2007

Guest writer for the first three months of 2007 was the Polish author Olga Tokarczuk. The novel Bieguni (Runners) is the direct fruit of her residency in Amsterdam and has won the the Nike prize, the most prestigious literary prize in Poland.

Olga studied psychology at the University of Warschau and worked as a volunteer with mentally ill patients. After graduating in 1989 she became a therapist in a Mental Health Centre. However, the success of her first novels made her decide to resign so writing could become her main activity.

Silesia, the region that is now home to Olga has inspired her enormously. Until 1945, Silesia was inhabited by Germans who after the Second World War where forced to leave their villages. From all over Poland new people arrived, but as we can read in Dom dzienny, dom nocny (1998) for a long time they didn’t feel at home there at all. In her work Olga has intertwined motives and legends from the past with the life stories of the present inhabitants of the region. Trough this approach Olga Tokarczuk has, in a non political way, reinvented the region. There is even one particular village where her stories are adopted as historical matter of facts.

Olga Tokarczuk has been working on a novel concerned with the history of anatomy. In the Netherlands she learned more about the 17th and 18th century phenomenon of the theatrum anatomicum. Libraries and museums in Leiden and Amsterdam were visited.

In 2000 Dom dzienny, dom nocny was translated into Dutch as Huis voor de dag, huis voor de nacht at de Geus publishers. In 2007 Ostatnie historie will make its way to the Dutch reader. Karol Lesman has translated both works.

More information:

Fleur van Koppen


Fleur van Koppen

Programme officer

[email protected]