Olga Tokarczuk

Banquet speech

Olga Tokarczuk’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2019.

Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, my fellow Laureates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Allow me to offer my most heartfelt thanks to the Swedish Academy and the Nobel Foundation for this incredible honor.

Before making the trip to Stockholm, I did my best to find out what this special week and the Nobel prize ceremony would be like. And I came upon the movie, The Wife. My favorite scene in the movie is when the writer and his wife have just received the call from the Nobel Academy, and they jump up and down on their bed like children, shouting: “We’ve won the Nobel!” But further down the line, the mood of the story grows darker, as it gradually transpires that the secret behind the writer’s success is his wife – and that she is the real author of his novel.

No, no, please don’t worry – I can solemnly declare that I wrote all my own books myself.

But the movie demonstrates a particular phenomenon, which is that prizes treat their laureates as individuals, by ascribing one-hundred-percent of the merit to them. When in fact there are always lots of other people behind their success – those who support, help and inspire.

So my thanks go to all those who have taken care of me while I was writing, who have done the research, edited the texts, and who supported me when the going got tough. The people who had different opinions from mine, and never hesitated to say so. And to those who rubbed soothing ointment into the back of my stiff neck.

I also owe a great deal to my translators. They will continue to be the most attentive readers of everything I write, they’ll catch every little inconsistency, and they’ll kick up a fuss about every mistake I make.

I am also honored to be receiving this award alongside the world’s most outstanding representatives of science. We think there’s a vast, gaping hole separating scientists and artists, but it’s simply not true. I find exploring disciplines other than my own to be an extremely inspiring source of the best ideas.

And finally:

Today it is exactly one hundred ten years since the first woman won the Nobel Prize in Literature – Selma Lagerlöf. I bow low to her across time, and to all the other women, all the female creators who boldly exceeded the limiting roles society imposed on them, and had the courage to tell their story to the world loud and clear. I can feel them standing behind me.

We really have won the Nobel!

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2019

To cite this section
MLA style: Olga Tokarczuk – Banquet speech. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Tue. 5 Mar 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/2018/tokarczuk/speech/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.