Categories: Translated Fiction, Mystery
In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation.
This rather unassuming synopsis does not tell the most interesting part of this story: Mrs. Duszejko is convinced that Animals are taking revenge on people who hunt them, killing them one by one. She finds evidences of the presence of animals on the area of the murders, and draws their horoscopes to try to prove to the police that her theory is right. I was left half convinced that she is not entirely sane during the entire book, torn between believing her or not. The victims are also involved in some mysterious crime, a far more plausible explanation for their murders, but Mrs. Duszejko is convinced otherwise.
I don’t think I can easily recommend it because of how weird this book is and by how eccentric the narrator is. It’s easy to get frustrated with her talking nonstop about horoscopes (especially if you’re a skeptic), but I found her lively, deeply human and charming, and I really enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes. This introspective novel has a wonderful atmospheric feel to it, with the pacing rather on the slow side. It’s proof of the author’s talent that I took turns between believing Mrs. Duszejko’s theory or not, depending on how the other characters reacted to it. I gladly let Tokarczuk take my hand and guide my thoughts and feelings as the story went on and, as the compliant sheep that I am, I was surprised every time there was a plot twist. Asking the reader to suspend disbelief and then challenging through other characters was such an interesting thing.
This is a brilliant book and I immediately added Flights to my to-read list! I recommend it if you enjoy noir mysteries, slow paced and atmospheric reads and if you think you’d be able to read something more on the weird side.