The Books of Jacob
Written by Olga Tokarczuk
Translated by Jennifer Croft
Follow the comet-like rise and fall of a self-proclaimed messiah as he blazes his way across 18th-century Europe, in Nobel Prize-winner Olga Tokarczuk's richest, most ambitious novel yet.
2015 NIKE AWARD JURY PRIZE
Young and mysterious Jacob Frank arrives in a village in Poland, during the mid-18th century, as new ideas—and a new unrest—begin to sweep the Continent. Before long, he casts a charismatic spell that attracts an increasingly fervent following.
In the decade to come, Frank will traverse the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires with throngs of disciples in his thrall as he reinvents himself again and again, converts to Islam and then Catholicism, is pilloried as a heretic and revered as the Messiah, and wreaks havoc on the conventional order, Jewish and Christian alike, with scandalous rumors of his sect’s secret rituals and the spread of his increasingly iconoclastic beliefs. The story of Frank—a real historical figure around whom mystery and controversy swirl to this day—is the perfect canvas for the genius and unparalleled reach of Olga Tokarczuk.
Narrated through the perspectives of his contemporaries—those who revere him, those who revile him, the friend who betrays him, the lone woman who sees him for what he is—The Books of Jacob captures a world on the cusp of precipitous change, searching for certainty and longing for transcendence.
In a nod to books written in Hebrew, The Books of Jacob is paginated in reverse, beginning on p. 955 and ending on p. 1 – but read traditionally, front cover to back.
Read if you: want to read an alternate reality version of the New Testament.