I think this may be the best title for a book I have seen in a long time. Tokarczuk is a Polish writer and was the recent winner of the Man International Book prize for her novel Flights but I decided to start reading her work with this one after listening to a podcast where the speaker couldn’t sing her praises enough. Sorry I can’t remember the podcast but I think it may have been Vintage books or Guardian books. Anyway, I thought this was excellent.
Essentially, on the surface, this is a murder mystery involving a little, old, eccentric lady who has an interest in astrology. Underneath, it is so much more than that. It looks at fate, our lives being predestined i.e. written in the stars, and it looks at man’s cruelty to animals including eating them.
The little old lady tries to see patterns in everyday things, trying to understand why things happen using astrology, but she just seems to be surrounded by death. She has even calculated the date of her own death. Then her neighbours start to die and she has some interesting ideas as to who murdered them.
Given the depth to Tokarczuk’s writing the genre of Murder mystery felt unusual but I did enjoy it. Although I think we all kind of know who the murderer is from early on. Credit must also be given to Antonia Lloyd – Jones, the translator, she has done a fantastic job. Since this was so enjoyable I really want to read Tokarczuk’s new book Flights. It looks much more experiemental and hopefully will be something to get stuck into.