The Books of Jacob by the Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk is an epic chronicle of the life and times of Frank and his followers. Over a thousand pages long, dense with history and incidents, it is vast enough to make the reader’s knees buckle. As crowded as a Bruegel painting, it moves from mud-bound Galician villages to Greek monasteries, 18th-century Warsaw, Brno, Vienna, and the luxurious surroundings of the Habsburg court. It takes in esoteric theological arguments, diplomatic history, alchemy, Kabbalah, Polish antisemitism, and the philosophical roots of the Enlightenment. It is a dauntingly ambitious piece of work and one of the responses it arouses is just plain amazement at the patience and tenacity that have gone into its construction.