The Lost Soul (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
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.
"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." —New York Times
"The Lost Soul, by Olga Tokarczuk and illustrator Joanna Concejo, is a quiet meditation on happiness, following a busy man who loses his soul. . . It pours a childlike sense of wonder into a once-upon-a-time tale that is already resonating with adults around the world." —The Guardian
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.
"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... " —from The Lost Soul
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.
About the Author
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.
Illustrator Joanna Concejo (1971-) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland. Her work has been exhibited in salons and exhibitions France, South Korea, Portugal, and the Bologna Children's International Book Fair where her work won a Bologna Ragazzi Award Mention, and many other places. She is author and illustrator of books published in Poland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and South Korea. In 2013 she was Winner of the IBBY Book of Year for graphic design (for Ksiaze w cukierni / Prince in a pastry shop, Format Editions), and in 2018 received a Mention/Fiction (for Zgubiona dusza / The Lost Soul). She lives outside of Paris, France. Translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones has translated works by several of Poland's leading contemporary novelists and reportage authors, as well as crime fiction, poetry, and children's books. Her translation of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by 2018 Nobel Prize laureate Olga Tokarczuk was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. She is a mentor for the Emerging Translators' Mentorship Programme, and former co-chair of the UK Translators Association.
"The Lost Soul, by Olga Tokarczuk and illustrator Joanna Concejo, is a quiet meditation on happiness, following a busy man who loses his soul. . . [I]t pours a childlike sense of wonder into a once-upon-a-time tale that is already resonating with adults around the world."
"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."
—Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain
"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, a picture book by Olga Tokarczuk, winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature. . . . 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."
—Wall Street Journal
“The Lost Soul. . . is a poetic story of a man who loses his soul in the daily rush and can only regain it in a very special way. The book has many meanings, also inspired by its nostalgic, meditative drawings by Polish artist Joanna Concejo."
"[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!”
"Olga Tokarczuk’s The Lost Soul, an experimental fable illustrated by Joanna Concejo and translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, resonates with our current moment. . . . [M]ore charming than you might expect from an Important Fable by a writer who went on to win the 2018 Nobel Prize. . . . Along the way we are treated to Concejo’s lush, detailed representations, and to quietly dramatic juxtapositions of full-page images. . . . The Lost Soul, rendered with skillful precision in pencil, asks readers to make connections that aren’t always immediately clear—between two pictures or between word and image. . . . Fittingly for a book about the harmonious reunion of two parts, the double spread is the basic unit of visual storytelling for The Lost Soul, and it’s particularly effective in the showstopping scene in which the man and the soul gaze at each other with serene acknowledgment at long last. . . . [W]hat a striking, and lovely, material object it is."
—The New York Times
“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.”
—Siri Hustvedt, author of Memories of the Future
"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."
—Leanne Shapton, author of Guestbook
"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 collaboration between two masters, one a writer and the other an artist. It’s the story of a man who feels his life has lost meaning, and we follow his voyage through a mysterious and haunting inner world.”
—Lydia McOscar, Brookline Booksmith
"There is something deeply moving in this slim volume of silent images and prose. Like so much of [Tokarczuk's] other work, [The Lost Soul] addresses our most contemporary problems and conditions before we can know them ourselves – like our frantic thoughtless romping of time and earth, which the pandemic suddenly made us see. . . . In Concejo’s drawings and Tokarczuk’s mysteriously sparse prose. . . we move closer to this space of silence, of growth, where we can begin to find what we have long ago forgotten and lost."
—Marek Makowski, English Instructor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"[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."
—World Literature Today
"Tokarczuk and Concejo offer a beautiful, consoling little book that encourages us to let go of the impulse to be perpetually busy, and to make sure we haven’t left our souls behind." —The Calvert Journal