“The Books of Jacob” in Croatian with the support of The Polish Book Institute

In Croatia, Olga Tokarczuk’s “The Books of Jacob” translated by Mladen Martić has just been published. The publication was supported by the Book Institute as part of the ©POLAND Translation Programme.

Knjige Jakubove, which is the title of the Croatian edition, was published by the Fraktura publishing house. Last year, Olga Tokarczuk's novel was also published in Slovenian and Serbian and translated by Jana Unuk and Milica Markić respectively. Both editions were supported by the Book Institute.

The Books of Jacob is one of the most renowned Polish novels of this decade. The book outlines the fate of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its end, focusing on the figure of the charismatic Jew Jakub Lejbowicz Frank. When a mysterious outsider from Smyrna begins to proclaim ideas that quickly divide the Jewish community, Frank rapidly gathers a circle of dedicated students around him and tries to change the course of history.

In The Books of Jacob, distinguished with numerous awards, Olga Tokarczuk draws fully upon the tradition of the historical novel. She meticulously depicts the realities of the era, architecture, clothing, and fragrances. We visit the courts of nobility, Catholic presbyteries, and Jewish households, praying and immersed in the reading of mysterious scriptures. Before the readers’ very eyes, the writer weaves a picture of bygone Poland, in which Christianity, Judaism, as well as Islam existed side by side.

The Books of Jacob is not only a novel about the past, but also a postmodernist historiosophic novel. For it can be read as a reflective, sometimes mystical work about the story itself and its meanderings and modes that determine the fate of entire nations.

Mladen Martić, the book’s translator into the Croatian language, has previously translated Sławomir Mrożek, Stanisław Lem, Zbigniew Herbert, Tadeusz Różewicz, and Stanisław Grochowiak, to name a few.