Tag Archives: Paweł Huelle

Found in Translation Award nomination, Deadline January 31st

If you haven’t yet made your nomination, please read further and send your email in by this Sunday!

Found in Translation Award 2010

The Book Institute reminds that 31st of January is the deadline for submitting nominations for Found in Translation Award.

The Award was announced 2 years ago by the Polish Book Institute, the Polish Cultural Institute in London, the Polish Cultural Institute in New York and W.A.B. Publishing House in Warsaw.

The Found in Translation Award is presented annually to the translator or translators of the best translation into English of a work of Polish literature published as a book in the previous calendar year.

The Award consists of a three-month placement in Krakow, with accommodation, a grant of 2,000 PLN per month, a return airline ticket to Krakow funded by the Polish Book Institute and a financial award of 10,000 PLN funded by the W.A.B. Publishing House.

The Award is presented by a Selection Committee consisting of representatives of the Polish Book Institute, the Polish Cultural Institute in London and the Polish Cultural Institute in New York. The Director of the Polish Book Institute is the President of the Selection Committee.

The name of the winner is announced during the award ceremony, which is organised each year in the winner’s country of origin, if possible during that country’s International Book Fair.

Candidates for the Award can be nominated by both private persons and institutions in Poland and abroad.

Nominations should be sent to the Polish Book Institute, 31-011 Kraków, ul. Szczepańska 1, Poland, e-mail office@bookinstitute.pl with the subject-heading FOUND IN TRANSLATION.

The nomination must include the book title, the name of the author, the name of the translator, the publisher, and the reasons for the nomination. The deadline for submitting nominations is midnight on January 31 each year.

Previous award winners: Bill Johnston (2008) for NEW POEMS by Tadeusz Różewicz (Archipelago Books, USA); Antonia Lloyd-Jones (2009) for THE LAST SUPPER by Paweł Huelle (Serpent’s Tail, UK).

Recent Polish literature news…

A few updates on recent goings-on in Polish literature:

This year’s NIKE Literary Award was announced on October 4. It went to Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, the only poet among 7 finalists, for his book Piosenka o zależnościach i uzależnieniach (Song of Relationships and Addictions, Biuro Literackie 2009). Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, who was born in 1962, has over 9 books of poetry in Polish and one in English: Peregrinary, which was translated by Bill Johnston and published in 2008 by Zephyr Press.

dycki-piosenka Dycki-by-MichaelZgodzay1

The other finalists were: Andrzej Bart for Fabryka muchołapek (Flycatcher Factory, WAB), Inga Iwasiów for Bambino (Świat Książki), Ignacy Karpowicz for Gesty (Gestures, Wydawnictwo Literackie), Tomasz Piątek for Pałac Ostrogskich (The Ostrogski Palace, WAB), Bohdan Sławiński for Królowa tiramisu (The Queen of Tiramisu, Czarna Owca), and Krzysztof Varga for Gulasz z turula (Turul Gulash, Czarne). Of these other finalists, all but one are men, all but one were nominated for a novel (Varga’s Turul Gulash is a reportage about Hungary), and all but one already had a book or more under their belts (The Queen of Tiramisu is Sławiński’s first novel).

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Andrzej Stasiuk has just published a new novel, Taksim (Czarne). Here’s a summary by critic Przemysław Czapliński from Czarne’s rights catalogue:

In his latest novel Andrzej Stasiuk tells a tale of a very last chase of capitalism. His two main heroes – Paweł, a marketeer who circulates among the bazaars of European provinces, and Włodek, his driver – suffer a symbolic and actual defeat in their encounter with the new force. Up till this moment they’d always managed to come out on top. Paweł in particular is like a knight errant of the first phase of capitalism in these parts.

Now, yesterday’s culture of short-lived products becomes a culture of one-time use. Asia invades Europe, not with an army, but with trade. It floods the continent with knockoffs, in other words merchandise the Chinese copied from Central European products that were themselves copies of Western items.

If someone has the impression that Stasiuk has created a contemporary version of the story of how “the yellow race overcomes the white race,” they will only partly be right. Stasiuk is less interested in portraying the victors in this capitalist duel of deceptions, more in showing us the losers – that is to say, the pariahs of Europe, inhabitants of its poorest regions, people condemned to a worse life because they live in a worse place. These people acquire the cheapest goods, but they themselves, especially the women, are also turned into merchandise. The only thing Western Europe exports to Central Europe is its trash, its used objects, the detritus of its development, while from there it imports male bodies for its harsher jobs and female bodies for its entertainment. In this way the strength of money and the weakness of the provinces cause the ideal of Europe to enter liquidation. And since history driven by money has no brakes, it is a liquidation that cannot be reversed.

I wonder if this book was picked up by an American publisher at Frankfurt last week. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which published Stasiuk’s novel Nine three years ago, has plans to release his book Traveling to Babadag sometime in the relatively near future. And if you haven’t yet read his amazing Fado, which came out last month with Dalkey Archive, please drop everything this minute and go out and get it.

taksim

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The plot of Stasiuk’s Taksim calls to mind another recent, darkly futuristic Polish novel rooted in a topical discourse: Paweł Huelle’s The Last Supper (translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Serpent’s Tail 2008; US edition forthcoming in December 2009). One wonders if a new catastrophism is under way in Polish fiction, a throwback to Witkacy’s apocalyptic novels of the 1930s… Here’s an excerpt of The Independent review last year, after Huelle’s novel came out in England:

The Last Supper, again [like previous novels Mercedes Benz and Castorp] centred on Gdansk, makes a small leap forward in time. Bomb attacks on liquor stores have raised the fear of jihadi militancy taking root among local Muslims (at present, they hardly exist), while others blame provocations by rival booze tycoons. The Church, via the flashy local prelate Father Monsignore (who runs his own-brand wine label), is shoring up its status via showbiz-style stunts and entrepreneurial gambits. Meanwhile, the artist Mateusz gathers a group of old friends – all veterans of the 1980s opposition circles, some thriving but others marooned in the free market – to take part in a re-enactment of the Last Supper.

The book’s first US review, in Publishers Weekly, just came out today, and is somewhat lukewarm, beginning with a caution: “American readers may struggle with this near-future novel from Polish author Huelle… a meandering meditation on contemporary Poland and Europe,” and ending with a proviso: “Those familiar with the social, political and religious issues Huelle addresses will best appreciate this challenging book.” It does, however, raise some important questions about translation, reception, and differing horizons of expectations between Poland and the U.S. (and between Poland and the U.K.).

420-31-last-supper

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Poet, translator, and Literatura na świecie editor Piotr Sommer is a Franke Visiting Fellow at Yale University this semester. He gave a reading together with Christian Hawkey at Symphony Space last month at the Polish Cultural Institute’s season opener, joined by members of theNew York-based ensemble The Knights, who performed settings of his and Hawkey’s poems by, respectively, Jeffrey Lependorf and Lisa Bielawa. He will be giving a reading at Yale tomorrow (20 October).

New Translations from Polish Ahead…

Well, Chad Post beat me to the punch with the news about Danuta Borchardt’s new translation of Gombrowicz’s Pornografia, which is forthcoming with Grove in November. It will be the first translation of the book directly from the Polish (Alistair Hamilton’s translation from Georges Lisowski’s French translation appeared with Calder and Boyars in 1966 and with Grove in 1967). Here are some other new translations from Polish to look forward to (I’ll post a downloadable list here soon as well):

Fado
by Andrzej Stasiuk
translated by Bill Johnston
Dalkey Archive Press, forthcoming September 2009

Towers of Stone: The Battle of Wills in Chechnya
by Wojciech Jagielski
translated by Soren Gauger
Seven Stories Press, forthcoming October 2009

Primeval and Other Times
by Olga Tokarczuk
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Twisted Spoon Press, forthcoming November 2009

The New Century: Poems
by Ewa Lipska
translated by Robin Davidson and Ewa Elzbieta Nowakowska
Northwestern University Press, forthcoming November 2009

The Last Supper
by Paweł Huelle
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Serpent’s Tail, forthcoming December 2009 (appeared in UK in November 2008)

Archipelago Books‘ Fall 2009 catalogue includes announcements of the following new translations:

Poems
by Cyprian Kamil Norwid
translated by Danuta Borchardt

A Treatise on Shelling Beans
by Wiesław Myśliwski
translated by Bill Johnston

Stone upon Stone
by Wiesław Myśliwski
translated by Bill Johnston

There are also rumours that in addition to Lipska, Northwestern UP will be publishing a new book of poems by Julia Hartwig, translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter; this will be Hartwig’s second book in English (In Praise of the Unfinished came out with Knopf last year). Another book that we’ll hopefully see very soon is Zbigniew Herbert’s collected essays, translated by Alissa Valles and forthcoming next year with Ecco.

Incidentally, there’s an early issue of The Complete Review (Twice Removed: Case Studies [Vol. IV, issue 4; November 2003]) that discusses those first second-hand translations of Gombrowicz’s novels (it’s interesting to see, too, that John Ashbery reviewed both Pornografia and Ferdydurke for the New York Times).

Andrzej Mandalian nominated for Gdańsk’s new European Poet of Freedom Award

Andrzej Mandalian has been nominated as the Polish contender for the City of Gdańsk‘s “European Poet of Freedom Award.” The administration of this award, of which this will be the first iteration, seems to be a bit complicated. The award was established two years ago; the poets from the other seven countries were nominated one year ago; it’s taken a year since then to winnow out a Polish candidate from among six Polish nominees, and the award will be conferred a year from now in 2010. Awards are such fascinating cultural rituals, and I’m sure the circumstances of this one are especially so. Here’s a list of the actors:

The Jury:

Ryszard Krynicki (Head of Jury), major poet of the New Wave, co-publisher with his wife of the Kraków-based house Wydawnictwo A5, one of the strongest publishers for poetry in Poland.

Paweł Huelle, fiction writer and resident of Gdańsk, author of Who Was David Weiser?, Mercedes Benz, Castorp, and The Last Supper.

Agnieszka Holland, acclaimed major film director since the 1970s (Provincial Actors, A Lonely Woman, Europa Europa), also known in the U.S. for having directed episodes of The Wire. What many people do not know here is that Holland is also a translator from Czech (Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, among other books).

Dorota Masłowska, best-selling author of Snow White and Russian Red and The Queen’s Peacock.

Krzysztof Pomian, eminent philosopher and historian, dissident in the 1970s and exile in France in the 1980s, where he worked with the journal Kultura. Since 2001, Director of the Museum of Europe in Brussels.

Stanisław Rosiek, literary historian, founder and publisher of the excellent Gdańsk-based humanities publisher słowo/obraz terytoria.

Andrzej Seweryn, acclaimed stage and film actor (Without Anaesthesia, The Silver Globe, Schindler’s List, Pan Tadeusz). Seweryn gave an acclaimed staged reading of Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz in Gdańsk last year.

Andrzej Jagodziński, former Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in Prague, translator from Czech (of Vaclav Havel among others), reporter for Gazeta Wyborcza, editor for Literatura na świecie.

With a jury as exciting as this, who needs prizewinners? Never fear, the nominees are no less fascinating. They’ve been chosen from eight different European countries (seven of which will be different every time the award is given — which at this rate will be once a decade — with Poland always being the eighth country). This time the award will be given for a book published in 2006-2007. The objective of the award is the “commendation and promotion of works of poetry that treat of one of the most important of present-day topics, freedom, and at the same time are characterized by artistic excellence.”

The nominees:

Belarus
Уладзiмер Арлоў (Uladzimir Arlou, b. 1953) for his book Паром празь Ля-Манш (A Ferry Across La Mancha). Arlou is a noted opposition poet and literary historian and Head of the Belarusan PEN Club.

Cyprus
Άνδρος Ζεμενίδης (Andros Zemenides, b. 1973) for his book Απ’ τατρίατομεγαλύτερο (The Greatest of Three). Poet, novelist, and screenwriter, Zemenides was born in England to a Cypriot father and Polish mother and lives in Limassol, where he works as a teacher.

France
Emmanuel Hocquard (b. 1940), for his book Conditions de lumière. Élégies. Author of over 17 books of poetry, many of which have been translated into English (by Lydia Davis, Rosmarie Waldrop, and Michael Palmer, among others).

Serbia
Marija Knežević (b. 1963), author of over 7 books of poetry and fiction, for her book Uličarke (Streetwalkers).

Slovakia
Ivan Štrpka (b. 1944), for his book Tichá ruka. desať elegií (Quiet Hand: Ten Elegies). One of the most important contemporary Slovak poets, translator from Spanish, Chief Editor of the magazine Romboid.

Slovenia
Primož Čučnik (b. 1971) for his book Dom in delo (Home and Work). Čučnik is the author of over 5 books of poetry, the publisher of the publishing house Lud Šerpa, Managing Editor of the important journal Literatura, and translator from Polish and English (Adam Wiedemann, Piotr Sommer, John Ashbery, Joshua Beckman, among others).

Sweden
Birgitta Lillpers (b. 1958) for her book Nu försvinner vi eller ingår (Now We Disappear or Join In). Poet and novelist, Lillpers has published over 10 books and recently won the newspaper Aftonbladet‘s literature prize.

All of the books by foreign nominees have been translated into Polish and published in slowo/obraz terytoria’s European Poet of Freedom—The Nominations series.

So who were the Polish nominees? An equally mixed group, generationally at least:

Magdalena Bielska (b. 1980) for her first book Brzydkie zwierzęta (Ugly Animals).

Julian Kornhauser (b. 1946), another major Polish poet of the New Wave, for his book Origami. Kornhauser is also a translator from Serbo-Croatian and a literary critic.

Andrzej Mandalian (b. 1926 in Shanghai), major poet and translator from Russian who came to prominence as a socialist realist poet during the Stalinist period, later a member of the opposition in the 1970s. Mandalian was born into a Communist family that took part in the revolution in China and the Spanish Civil War. For his book Poemat odjazdu (The Poem of Departure), which is a reportage poem about Warsaw’s Central Train Station and was nominated for the 2008 NIKE Prize.

Tadeusz Różewicz (b. 1921) one of the major Polish poets of the postwar generation, Różewicz is also well known as a playwright. His work has been available in English since the 1960s, translated largely by Adam Czerniawski, but also by Magnus Krynski and Robert Maguire and most recently by Bill Johnston (New Poems, published by Archipelago Books in 2007, was nominated for the NBCC’s Poetry Prize and Johnston won the first Found in Translation Award for it). Różewicz was nominated twice for the European Poet of Freedom Award, for two books: cóż z tego, że we śnie (so what if it was dreamed), nauka chodzenia (the science of walking).

Andrzej Sosnowski (b. 1959), one of the major poets debuting after 1989, author of over 12 books; translator from English of John Ashbery, John Cage, Elizabeth Bishop, Ronald Firbank, and Jane Bowles; editor for Literatura na świecie. For his book Po tęczy (After the Rainbow).

Krzysztof Zuchora (b. 1940), for his book Noc blisko światła (Night Near the Light). Zuchora is a professor at the Józef Piłsudski Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw, a member of the Polish Olympic committee, and Chief Editor of the magazine Kultura Fizyczna.

One thing that is immediately evident to me (and to most other North American and British readers, I suspect) is that of the 21 active and passive participants in this ritual (8 jury members, 13 nominees), only 5 are women. I guess that’s not bad comparatively, but it’s clear from this example and that of other recent awards that gender ratio is less important in Poland than it would be in the U.S. (This is also an issue for translation too, incidentally. The post-1989 generation of poets includes proportionally few women poets, which would make a representative anthology seem nevertheless lopsided to an English-language readership.)

Awards may be one of the least apparently substantial areas of literary culture, and don’t seem, at least on the surface, to merit much more attention than a press release. But I find them pretty fascinating phenomena for observing how cultural economies interact, and how political entities like cities, especially smaller regional metropolises (in this case Gdańsk; in the case of the Silesius Award, Wrocław), raise their profiles nationally and internationally by organizing structures of value and rituals around individual authors’ work and fame. The award of course comes with both prestige and a monetary component: 100,000 zloties (or 30,000 euros).

It is also politically significant that Mandalian has received the Polish nomination. He is one of the great first postwar generation of Polish poets — of Herbert, Różewicz, Szymborska, Ficowski, Białoszewski, Hartwig, and Harasymowicz — who came of age during World War II and had to negotiate the Stalinist period according to a variety of tactics: dissidence, opportunism, idealistic commitment. As an example of the last of these (from a Communist family, moreover), Mandalian took the ideologically regrettable—but perhaps existentially defensible?—path. I don’t know Mandalian’s later work at all; I associate him mainly with his earliest socialist realist works: Dzisiaj (Today, 1951) and Wiosna sześciolatków (The Spring of the Six-Year-Plans), the latter a remarkable book of spunkily propagandistic reportage verse he wrote together with Andrzej Braun and Wiktor Woroszylski, which was on one of my comprehensive exams lists. Despite his later activity in the opposition, I’m sure his nomination will raise the hackles of the Radio-Maryja and Institute-of-National-Remembrance folks (who recently put up such a fuss about a certain Bruno Jasieński Street in an out-of-the-way village, but more on that later). Those are the same people who get all Cheney-Bush on Szymborska for her early socialist realism and on Miłosz for being “anti-Polish.” Nominating Mandalian, who is clearly a substantial poet and at any rate underrecognized, is a much deserved slap in the face.

Andrzej Mandalian

Andrzej Mandalian

As for other felicitous accolades in recent news, former Premier (the first non-Communist Premier after 1948) Tadeusz Mazowiecki has been deemed “Person of the Year,” and “Person of the 20-lecia [two decades]”since the collapse of Communism in Poland, by Gazeta Wyborcza. I suspect it was not a hard decision to make.

I saw this man in person in October 1989 in the Collegium Maius in Krakow. He was standing three feet away from me, and I dont think Ive ever seen a more exhausted and concerned and respect-worthy person in my life.

I saw this man in person in October 1989 in the Collegium Maius in Krakow, standing three feet away from me as I walked by. He was Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the recently democratically elected Premier of a country with a whole lot of trouble on its hands. I've never seen a more exhausted, concerned, and respect-worthy person in my life. Even now, after Obama's election, he remains for me the model of a leader.

Drenka Willen receives London Book Fair’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Well there is some justice in the world.

The LBF’s advisory board unanimously agreed on [Harcourt editor] Willen as the winner; Simon Master, chair, said: “Drenka Willen has for 40 years inspired respect and admiration amongst her peers across the globe, from authors to agents to publishers. Her dedication to discovering and championing foreign authors, including four Nobel Prize winners [Gunter Grass, Jose Saramago, Wislawa Szymborska  and Octavio Paz], which must be something of a record, marks her out as a worthy recipient.”

(For the full press release, go to www.thebookseller.com.)

Drenka Willen represents a direct link to the interwar European publishing tradition, having inherited the imprint of German emigres Kurt and Helen Wolff (which is now called Harvest Books); and she has also been a translator, from Serbo-Croatian. Her contributions to Polish literature include a number of other Polish authors besides Szymborska, such as Stanisław Lem, Stefan Chwin, and most recently Andrzej Stasiuk (whose GOING TO BABADAG is forthcoming next spring).

Congratulations!