"The Books of Jacob" by Olga Tokarczuk

By Olga Tokarczuk

Reviewed by Matthew

ISBN 9780593087480

Imagine a messianic cult in 18th century Poland. True story. And being so, one may think it'd take the obvious route & focus on its central figure. Instead, Olga Tokarczuk, who won the Nobel in 2018, creates a multivocal tapestry. And "tapestry" is exactly the word. Imagine an intricate, colorful canvas slowly unrolling itself. Various perspectives about a messiah who stands for endtimes & saviorship in 3 major religions across a region we cannot in our day neatly map. Jacob Frank rises & falls through many other people's eyes. Especially the women of his communities. And then? Then! we get glimpses of all of them through even stranger eyes, forcing you to rethink the term "omniscient narrator"...There has never been a historical novel like this one. Believe me, I've looked.

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