Flights

Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
4 out of 5 stars (244 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize

National Book Award Finalist for Translated Literature

A visionary work of fiction by "A writer on the level of W. G. Sebald" (Annie Proulx) 

"A magnificent writer." (Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize-winning author of Secondhand Time)

"A beautifully fragmented look at man's longing for permanence.... Ambitious and complex." (Washington Post)

From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. 

Chopin's heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. "Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going?" we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller's answer.

©2018 Olga Tokarczuk; translation Jennifer Croft (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"What’s in a novel? This Man Booker International Prize winner reads like a rigorous response to that question in the best, most edifying (and maddening) way…Magnificently translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft, Flights has the scattered intimate quality of a personal diary, its magic wedded to its singularity. It’s an unexpected, funny journey into that most elusive of places - the human condition." (Entertainment Weekly)

“A revelation … Flights is a witty, imaginative, hard-to-classify work that is in the broadest sense about travel…. In this risky, restlessly mercurial book, Tokarczuk has found a way of turning…philosophy into writing that doesn't just take flight but soars.” (NPR’s “Fresh Air”)

“A beautifully fragmented look at man’s longing for permanence...ambitious and complex.” (Washington Post)

“It’s a busy, beautiful vexation, this novel, a quiver full of fables of pilgrims and pilgrimages, and the reasons - the hidden, the brave, the foolhardy - we venture forth into the world …In Jennifer Croft’s assured translation, each self-enclosed account is tightly conceived and elegantly modulated, the language balletic, unforced.” (The New York Times)

Editor's Pick

Delightfully Disorienting Vignettes
"Olga Tokarczuk is apparently a very well known author in Poland, and while I’d never heard of her before she certainly has proven herself in awards, among them The Man Booker International Prize. Super weird short stories are also totally my thing, and when I saw the narrator was veteran Julia Whelan I was sold. Flights definitely falls into the super weird category. Its structure, content, and style all vary wildly between quirky and imaginative, to assertive and analytical. But it is extremely clear that Tokarczuk has a finger on exactly what bothers us most deeply. Her stories are inexplicably unsettling, and I can’t wait to test the knot that they tie themselves in, as I’ve heard the ending is particularly strong."
Michael D., Audible Editor

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

hard to follow

hard to follow, but intriguing. it left me with a haunting new understanding of life. we are given a choice as to how to see life.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Difficult to follow

I think this book would be a great read, but unfortunatelly it was difficult to follow as an audiobook.. It wasn't always clear when one story ends, and other starts, especially with the very short ones.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Curious and beautifully written

The author's style has been described as a constellation, and I see now how accurate that is. Some chapters are short, some are long .Some stories intertwine, some story lines are never revisited.
Bu the writing, or the translation, is so gorgeous and visual. At times I get lost in the prose or the poetry of it and it happily distracts me from the fact that I don't know where this story is going.
But the theme is movement, and the book accomplishes movement in the way it skips, the way it flows, and the way she writes. I enjoyed it so much.
My only gripe would be that Julia reads every character in the same tone. Consistency is good, but there were times I did not even realize we had jumped from the stories/words of a woman to that of a man.
Since some chapters are only a sentence long, pay attention :)

10 people found this helpful

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What an incredible experience!

Excellent book, excellent translation, excellent performance. A truly memorable experience. I would strongly recommend it.

8 people found this helpful

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Cannot even finish part one

I tried, but this book was such a major disappoinment. Left me feeling completely uninspired.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fabulous book, wrong narrator

Although this unusually structured novel should probably be read rather than listened to, I enjoyed the Audible version anyway. The author is an truly artist with words. Unfortunately, narrator Julia Whelan narrated this work at such a fast clip, I felt I was listening at +1.25 speed even though it was at normal pace. Wrong narrator for the book, Audible,

1 person found this helpful

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Wondrously read,

Blended exceptionally the writing, translation, and reading! Tokarczuk's constellation novel was so much fun to read, so many details and ideas...

1 person found this helpful

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Fragmented fiction

interesting and insightful, didn't understand the big picture but enjoyed the facts and stories. it was hard to understand the setting sometimes, so I had rewind quite a lot. it was worth it though. the daughters letters and the Russian woman were my favorite stories.

1 person found this helpful

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Give it a chance

I would love to talk someone who has read this in polish to know whether the first half of the book is like a dry textbook or if that is just this translator. After about halfway the translation/book improves and I really enjoyed it. Great narration which makes the first half listenable.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Dissapointing

Maybe better as a read but as an audio book it is all over the place and wandering. Maybe if I can manage to get through the whole think it will come together in the end but for now a couple of hours in - whoa. What a rambler with so far no redeeming qualities.

3 people found this helpful