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10Mar

A Nobel winner turns to picture books: 'It is a powerful way of telling a story'

The Lost Soul, by Olga Tokarczuk and illustrator Joanna Concejo, is a quiet meditation on happiness, following a busy man who loses his soul

Ever since Olga Tokarczuk won the 2018 Nobel prize, her growing legions of English language fans have been eagerly awaiting the translation of her 1,100 page historical epic The Books of Jacob. So it’s both surprising and amusing to find it gazumped by a slender picture book, meditating on the value of patience.

The Lost Soul is the Polish author’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. “I adore the picture book,” she says. “It’s a unique form of communication that sets off a sort of proto-cinema in our minds. The language has to be limited to what’s absolutely essential. It’s the picture that carries the story. For me it’s a powerful, primeval way of telling a story that’s able to get through to anyone, regardless of age, cultural differences or level of education.”

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