If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for that special Polish-literature-and-culture enthusiast in your life (or for yourself for that matter), then look no further than this list of new fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, academic, and children’s books!
Winner of the 2009 Found in Translation Award!
Set in Gdańsk in the near future, twelve men have been invited to model for a modern, photographic version of The Last Supper, but their meeting is disturbed as a terrorist attack paralyzes the city…
“Huelle’s erudite writing bestows a mordant wit on even the weightiest subject matter… his prose has an other-worldly quality.” – Financial Times
First translation directly from Polish of this modernist masterpiece!
“Gombrowicz’s strange, bracing final novel probes the divide between young and old while providing a grotesque evocation of obsession.” – Publishers Weekly
“As terrifying as the characters are in their calculation, Gombrowicz’s agile pen dilutes the tragedy with a lightness that only the best can master.” – Salonica World Lit
A recovering alcoholic, just back from the alco ward, spies a beautiful woman outside his window one day. What follows is a stylistically brilliant, postmodern diary of addiction, recovery, and love…
“Pilch’s prose is masterful, and the bulk of The Mighty Angel evokes the same numb, floating sensation as a bottle of Żołądkowa Gorzka.” – L Magazine
The Wall in My Head is an exciting anthology of texts and images by writers and artists who witnessed the collapse of Communism firsthand and by those who grew up in its wake. The collection features Polish authors Zbigniew Herbert, Paweł Huelle, Ryszard Kapuściński, Dorota Masłowska, and Andrzej Stasiuk, along with a host of others, including Mircea Cărtărescu, Milan Kundera, and Dubravka Ugresić.
“Personal recollection and reflection can provide readers with a deeper understanding of an event. This anthology of mostly Eastern European fiction, essays, images, and historical documents… does this exceptionally well.” – Library Journal
“[Towers of Stone] brings to life the danger, squalor and misery of daily life in Chechnya with almost unbearable clarity.” – The Economist
“Wojciech Jagielski has already achieved recognition for his reporting from the most inflamed points on our globe. [This latest work] will only confirm his reputation.” – Ryszard Kapuściński
Andrzej Stasiuk travels to places no tourist would think of visiting, and in this characteristically lyrical book of travel essays, lays out his own unique and challenging perspective on the fascinating, unknown heart of Central Europe.
“Stasiuk, exploring a region that so many have assumed to be irresistibly converging with the West, has mapped what Freud might have called its ‘genetic memory.'” – Benjamin Moser, Harper’s Magazine
“In the spare and bleak Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past in Bosnia, the Polish journalist Wojciech Tochman chronicles the aftermath of war in Bosnia and, if anything, confirms that the so-called peace has brought little actual peace. Yet he is not polemical about this point; instead, he relies on suggestive details, pungent quotes and simple, understated prose.” – The New York Times
Surreal, skeptical, and laced with wit, Ewa Lipska’s poetry, like that of Miłosz and Szymborska, achieves a hard-won and gracefully wielded authority, combining an awe of beauty with a skepticism of language’s ability to ameliorate human experience. This book brings her work to readers in a fresh, new English translation.
POLAND’S ANGRY ROMANTIC: TWO POEMS AND A PLAY BY JULIUSZ SLOWACKI
edited and translated by Peter Cochran, Bill Johnston, Miroslawa Modrzewska, and Catherine O’Neil
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, November 2009
Indiebound / Amazon
This volume provides new translations of three works by one of Poland’s most important Romantic authors, Juliusz Słowacki: the popular play Balladina, the meditative poem Agamemnon’s Tomb, and the hilarious mock-epic Beniowski. An informative introduction by Peter Cochran is included.
“Careful, profound and much celebrated in Poland, Szuber seems the logical heir, in some ways, of Czeslaw Miłosz…. [representing] not the new voice of postcommunist Poland, but the last flowering of the world-class lyric gifts – allegorical, pious, careful, self-estranged — that grew up in the shadow of the Iron Curtain.” – Publishers Weekly
“Szuber’s poetry speaks to the hard part of the soul.” – Zbigniew Herbert
BEEN AND GONE: SELECTED POEMS
translated by Piotr Florczyk, with a foreword by Adam Zagajewski
Marick Press, April 2009
Paper, 75 pp., $14.95
A major figure in Polish poetry, Kornhauser started his career in the New Wave movement of the 1970s with Adam Zagajewski, Stanisław Barańczak, and Ryszard Krynicki. This long-overdue selection from his recent poetry is his first book to appear in English.
“I’m amazed by the continuity of [Kornhauser’s] writing, by the honesty of his poetry, by his patient worship of the concreteness of the world.” – Adam Zagajewski
“Poetry and thinking for Zagajewski have to do with learning how to see clearly. His poems celebrate those rare moments when we catch a glimpse of a world from which all labels have been unpeeled.” – Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books
Tkaczyszyn-Dycki is one of Poland’s most original and important younger poets. Trained by twin muses, Thanatos and Eros, his is a voice at once resonant of the long European tradition of elegy, rooted in regional (Ukrainian) folk traditions, and alive to contemporary Polish reality. Winner of the 2009 NIKE Award, Poland’s most prestigious literary prize.
Hailed by Czesław Miłosz as “the grande dame of Polish poetry,” Julia Hartwig has long been considered the gold standard of poetry in her native Poland. With this career-spanning collection, we finally have a book of her work in English.
“For all her topical interest Hartwig is finally a poet of enduring consolation, measured reassurance and scenic clarity.” — Publishers Weekly
PLAYWRIGHTS BEFORE THE FALL: EASTERN EUROPEAN DRAMA IN TIMES OF REVOLUTION
edited by Daniel Gerould
Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications, November 2009
Paper, 411 pp., $20.00
This first multi-author international anthology of Eastern European plays to appear in English includes Sławomir Mrożek’s Portrait, as well as plays by Karel Steigerwald, Gyorgy Spiró, Matei Vişniec, and Dušan Jovanović.
ZAPOLSKA’S WOMEN: THREE PLAYS: MALKA SZWARCENKOPF, THE MAN, AND MISS MALICZEWSKA
edited and translated by Teresa Murjas
Intellect Books, October 2009
Paper, 192 pp., $30.00
Indiebound / Amazon
Gabriela Zapolska (1857-1921) was an actor, journalist, and one of Poland’s foremost modernist playwrights. In over thirty plays, she uncompromising explorer of gender construction and class oppression in fin-de-siècle Poland. This informative collection of groundbreaking plays and scholarly essays on them by Teresa Murjas will introduce an English-speaking audience to Zapolska’s important work.
BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, SCHOLARLY & GENERAL NONFICTION
In this insightful book, Jarosław Anders looks at how the major works of 20th-century Polish literature constantly transformed historical experience into the metaphysical, philosophical, or religious exploration of human existence.
“If Anders’s essays do not aspire to a complete play-by-play of Polish literature’s last century, they at least offer the most focused and entertaining highlights reel I’ve seen.” – Benjamin Paloff, The Nation
Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), Poland’s national bard, was one of the extraordinary personalities of the age. Roman Koropeckyj draws a portrait of the Polish poet as a quintessential European Romantic. This richly illustrated biography – the first scholarly biography of the poet to be published in English since 1911– draws extensively on diaries, memoirs, correspondence, and the poet’s literary texts to make sense of a life as sublime as it was tragic.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817) was a hero of both the American Revolution and the Polish independence movement, a champion of the abolition of slavery, and a friend and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson. This definitive and exhaustively researched biography fills a long-standing gap in historical literature with its account of this dashing and inspiring revolutionary figure.
“…a sweeping, colorful, and absorbing biography that should restore Kosciuszko to his proper place in history.” – Andrew Nagorski, Newsweek
First published in 1942 by the Polish emigre publishing house Roy, Rulka Langer’s memoir is finally available again in this new, illustrated edition.
“An unusual take on WWII … a rare eyewitness account of the war’s early, chaotic days – the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Siege of Warsaw and the first few months of Nazi occupation – written by Rulka Langer, a civilian, a young Polish career woman and mother and a graduate of Vassar College.” – Publishers Weekly
Chopin’s Second Ballade, Op. 38 is frequently performed, yet remains very poorly understood – disagreement prevails on issues from its tonic and two-key structure to its posited relationship with the poems of the great Romantic bard Adam Mickiewicz. Chopin’s Polish Ballade is a reexamination and close analysis of this famous work, revealing the Ballade as a piece with a powerful political story to tell.
“Ingenious, entertaining, and convincing – Jonathan Bellman’s book deftly demonstrates how the study of a single piece of music can open a new window onto an entire cultural world.” – Kenneth Hamilton
Jerzy Grotowski (1933–99), considered one of the most important and influential theatre practitioners of the 20th century, was a Polish stage director, theatrical theorist, and founder and director of the famous Polish Laboratory Theatre. Most of Grotowski’s theater-making took place in this and similar small theaters and studio spaces, and as a result one of his central fascinations was the actor’s work within the context of an empty room. The essays in Grotowski’s Empty Room analyze how Grotowski’s explorations in the theater continue to challenge dramatists and directors.
Spanning Polish history from the days of incipient rebellion against Communist rule through the Solidarity movement of the 1980s to today’s democratic Poland, Performative Democracy sheds new light on what it is people are doing when they act democratically. Even as Matynia, who participated in many of the events she describes, elucidates their common features, she captures and infectiously renders their exhilarating atmosphere and spirit to the reader. – Jonathan Schell
In this remarkable album, 74 stunning color photographs bear witness to the great Jewish civilization that once flourished in Polish Galicia. Captions and detailed notes explain and contextualize the photographs. An invaluable sourcebook.
“A moving account of what is being done to preserve the memory of what was lost and of the people, both Poles and Jews, involved in this important undertaking.” – Antony Polonsky
by Michał Rusinek
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, 2009
Cloth, 32 pp., $21.95
Polish Arts Center
This children’s book tells the story of little Frycek Chopin in rhymed verse, with full-color illustrations by Joanna Rusinek. A wonderful gift for the budding musician or composer in your family!