Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Illustrated by Joanna Concejo

The only book in English for readers of all ages by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Olga Tokarczuk is a beautifully illustrated meditation on the fullness of life.

"Once upon a time there was a man who worked very hard and very quickly, and who had left his soul far behind him long ago. In fact his life was all right without his soul--he slept, ate, worked, drove a car and even played tennis. But sometimes he felt as if the world around him were flat, as if he were moving across a smooth page in a math book that was covered in evenly spaced squares..."

The Lost Soul is a deeply moving reflection on our capacity to live in peace with ourselves, to remain patient, attentive to the world. It is a story that beautifully weaves together the voice of the Nobel Prize-winning Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk and the finely detailed pen-and-ink drawings of illustrator Joanna Concejo, who together create a parallel narrative universe full of secrets, evocative of another time. Here a man has forgotten what makes his heart feel full. He moves to a house away from all that is familiar to him to wait for his soul to return.
The Lost Soul is a sublime album, a rare delicacy that will delight readers young and old.

"You must find a place of your own, sit there quietly and wait for your soul."

Winner of the Bologna Ragazzi Award, Special Mention 2018, Prix de l'Union Internationale pour les Livres de Jeunesse (IBBY), The White Raven (IJB Munich), and the Łódź Design Festival Award.

Collected in  

Women in Translation
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“This recipe for the quiet life of home is an anodyne for the feelings of stress, insecurity, angst and loss that today afflict most of us. Even imagining the fairy tale 'small cottage at the edge of the city' will soothe readers and their listeners. The tender illustrations offer fine details that sink deep into the memory.”

“'The Lost Soul' is [Olga Tokarczuk]’s first venture into picture books, and it pours a childlike sense of wonder into a once-upon-a-time tale that is already resonating with adults around the world... The story, which unfolds on pages latticed like a maths exercise book, is a collaboration with illustrator Joanna Concejo, who has fed and watered the short text so that it blossoms across 48 pages.”

“Olga Tokarczuk’s The Lost Soul, an experimental fable illustrated by Joanna Concejo and translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, resonates with our current moment... What a striking, and lovely, material object it is.”

“Olga Tokarczuk’s simple words and Joanna Concejo’s tender images tell a story we need to hear and see now in our brutal present—the parable of a soul lost and found.”

“[A] gorgeous book about taking time to appreciate what you have and what is around you. Remember this one when it’s time to give a graduation gift!

“Nobel Prize–winning Polish novelist Tokarczuk (Flights) teams up with artist Concejo for an elegant, meditative parable about isolation and redemption. The minimal text opens with “Once upon a time” and describes John, a workaholic businessman in existential crisis who feels “as if the world around him were flat, as if he were moving across a smooth page in a math exercise book, entirely covered in evenly spaced squares.” As he loses all sense of identity, a wise doctor diagnoses his spiritual malaise: “The world is full of people running about in a hurry... and their lost souls always left behind.” John decides to cease his frantic lifestyle in the hope that he and his soul can reunite. Tokarczuk’s poetic sensibility matches perfectly with Concejo’s hushed, evocative drawings, which comment abstractedly on the story, depicting humans in Hopper-esque isolation from each other and the natural world, until they eventually interact and integrate. As they do, the monochromatic pencils gradually incorporate rich hues of green and orange, representing life again in balance. This sincere collaboration invites readers to reflect upon existential themes on their own terms. It’s a soothing balm for tense, jagged times.”

“[A] beautiful collaboration with Joanna Concejo, a visual artist and fellow Pole, and Tokarczuk’s longtime translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones. The Lost Soul is a simple story about what happens when we are forced to wait for the little feet of our inner child to catch up with the hurried pace of life. . . In a time of uncertainty, stagnation, and grief, Tokarczuk and Concejo offer consolation—that we too might stop and recognize what is enough, endure our own “peaceful winters,” and possibly let go of the craving for more than that.”

“The Lost Soul is a treasure. Tokarczuk and Concejo offer their readers another way to see the velocity of days, the grace in waiting, and time itself. Turning Concejo’s pages of wonderful drawings gave me a much-needed pause, and a reassuring perspective on loss, patience, and reward.”

“Devotees like to say that a person is never too old to enjoy picture books. A person may be too young, however. Only an older reader is likely to appreciate the subtleties of “The Lost Soul” (Seven Stories, 46 pages, $22.95), a picture book by Olga Tokarczuk, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature. “Once upon a time there was a man who worked very hard and very quickly, and who had left his soul far behind him long ago,” we read of a man who, in a delicate drawing by Joanna Concejo, sits alone with an espresso, impassive in his business suit. “He slept, ate, worked, drove a car, and even played tennis. But sometimes he felt as if the world around him were flat, as if he were moving across a smooth page in a math exercise book, entirely covered in evenly spaced squares.” At this point the reader will notice that the book’s pale brown pages are themselves crosshatched, like graph paper that has been dipped in tea. On his doctor’s advice, the man retreats to a secluded cottage so that his soul can catch up with him. Wordless monochrome illustrations show the quiet unfolding of emptiness and waiting: untraveled paths, unoccupied park benches, a lone child in a cafe. Slowly the wintry color scheme begins to admit more and more splashes of green as the man’s soul—the child from the cafe—makes its way back to him.”

“Nobel Prize-winning Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk is one of the most brilliant novelists writing today, and the idea that she has written a book that’s possible to read to my kids (with pictures!) fills me with immense joy”

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OLGA TOKARCZUK (1962-) is an activist, public intellectual, and one of Poland's most highly regarded writers. She is winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature (given in 2019). In 2018 she won The International Man Booker Award for her novel, Flights (translated by Jennifer Croft), and twice (2009, 2015) won Poland's highest literary honor, the Nike (and the Nike Readers' Prize) as well as other prestigious literary awards. Her 2009 novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones), was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. Tokarczuk is the author of eight novels and two short story collections. The Lost Soul, the first book by Tokarczuk written for both children and adults was awarded a special mention of the Bologna Ragazzi Award in 2018. Tokarczuk's work has been translated into a dozen languages. She lives in Wroclaw, Poland.