cover image The Lost Soul

The Lost Soul

Olga Tokarczuk and Joanna Concejo, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Seven Stories, $22.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-64421-034-5

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. (Feb.)