Thousands of readers and fans were waiting for the writer who had won the Noble Prize for the year 2018 both in the National Forum of Music and in front of the outdoor screen at Plac Wolności.
There was a standing ovation, the handover of two keys by Mayor Jacek Sutryk and a memento of Wisława Szymborska by Michał Rusinek, a cheerful atmosphere, a perfectly conducted discussion, and a joint photograph of the Nobel Prize winner and Wroclaw inhabitants. The first meet-the-author session with Olga Tokarczuk after the announcement of the Swedish Academy’s verdict will remain in our memory for a long time.
The duration of the meeting with Olga Tokarczuk was measured with clockwork precision. It lasted one hour and a half and, most importantly, nobody seemed to doubt that the writer said everything that her most loyal fans were waiting for.
Room filled to capacity during the meeting with Olga Tokarczuk
An ovation and a key to the city gates
She received a standing ovation when entering the stage of the National Forum of Music. The writer thanked the audience for their presence; seeing her fans standing in front of the outdoor screen at Plac Wolności, she joked that they would be looking at big enlarged heads at that moment and she expressed her happiness that it was not raining.
The winner of the Noble Prize in literature and the Honorary Citizen of Wroclaw received a particularly warm welcome from Mayor Jacek Sutryk, who stressed that Tokarczuk was coming back home to the city that had also been a home for Tadeusz Różewicz, Rafał Wojaczek or Tymoteusz Karpowicz. In his speech, he referred to Olga Tokarczuk’s words about Wroclaw as a city rebuilt with love, emphasised that the figure of the Noble Prize winner serves currently as a compass, and handed over two keys to the writer. The first one was the key to the city gates and the second one is to ‘serve as a tool opening the gates of the dialogue and European and foreign co-operation in the field of literature’.
News about the Nobel Prize
An interview with Olga Tokarczuk was conducted by Katarzyna Kantner – the author of a doctoral dissertation at the Jagiellonian University devoted to the works of the winner of the literary Noble prize. She asked about the moment when Tokarczuk had learned about the Swedish Academy’s verdict, which happened on the motorway in Germany on the writer's way to a meeting in Bielefeld.
The telephone rang before 1:00 p.m.; the writer noticed the prefix 46, a characteristic part of Swedish phone numbers, and felt her pressure rise. ‘A friendly male voice, which seemed a little worried to me, said that he had to inform me about the awarding of the Noble Prize for the year 2018. I remember that I kept saying “No, no”, and he said: “Yes, yes, Madam,”’ told Olga Tokarczuk. Then, together with her husband, they stopped at the car park. ‘We were jumping and hugging, completely bewildered,’ she added. In Bielefeld, Tokarczuk came across a nice surprise. The mayor and the organisers gave them a very warm welcome and an impromptu press conference took place.
Katarzyna Kantner’s interview with Olga Tokarczuk in the National Forum of Music lasted over an hour; the Noble winner talked, among others, about the power of literature to unite the world, about fiction, about her family home and the father who had typewritten her first literary works, about the need to restore literature to women, about metaphysics and the soul of animals and whether her books are demanding for listeners.
What Olga Tokarczuk is writing now
Even before receiving the literary Nobel Prize, Olga Tokarczuk made a decision to go to a secluded place and work on a new book that ‘is not suitable for a Nobel prize,’ as she mentioned. She added that she was happy with being a young winner. ‘I will receive a Nobel prize at the age when I can still rule,’ she said at the end of the meeting in the National Forum of Music.