Marek Hłasko has been described as Poland’s angry young man of the 1950s. The Eighth Day of the Week is a story of two young people searching for a place to consummate their love, while Killing the Second Dog gives voice to the rebellious longings and resentments of youth growing up under communism.
NB The 1992 Minerva edition pictured includes two works of fiction by Hłasko, which are also available in separate editions.
This brief biography of Hłasko is taken from the Minerva book.
& this is a still striking a film poster from the late 50s for the film version of The 8th Day of the Week.
Marek Hłasko on wikipedia (English)
Set in early 1980s Poland against the violent decline of communism, a tender and passionate story of first love between two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide—a stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of Andre Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.
When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this handsome, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are fulfilled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks camping in the countryside, bonding over an illicit copy of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. Inhabiting a beautiful natural world removed from society and its constraints, Ludwik and Janusz fall deeply in love. But in their repressive communist and Catholic society, the passion they share is utterly unthinkable.
Once they return to Warsaw, the charismatic Janusz quickly rises in the political ranks of the party and is rewarded with a highly-coveted position in the ministry. Ludwik is drawn toward impulsive acts of protest, unable to ignore rising food prices and the stark economic disparity around them. Their secret love and personal and political differences slowly begin to tear them apart as both men struggle to survive in a regime on the brink of collapse.
Shifting from the intoxication of first love to the quiet melancholy of growing up and growing apart, Swimming in the Dark is a potent blend of romance, post-war politics, intrigue, and history. Lyrical and sensual, immersive and intense, Tomasz Jedrowski has crafted an indelible and thought-provoking literary debut that explores freedom and love in all its incarnations.
~ taken from Good Reads
A short review in The Guardian
Mariamne is an old Jewish peasant woman from Galilee. She is visited by a young Greek man who came to see her to talk about her late son. Mariamne spins her story in a colourful and blunt language of a simple, old woman of natural intelligence and dry sense of humour. In her eyes Judas was the nicest friend of her son’s. She can’t forgive John the Baptist for stealing the object of young Hoshi’s love or, years later, finding it hard to conceal his jealousy of Yehoshua’s growing popularity. According to her Hoshi didn’t see himself as a god or a saviour of the entire humankind, or even a prophet or a religious reformer – he thought of himself first and foremost as a doctor and perhaps a little bit of a folk sage.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the villagers of the Carpathian mountains lead a simple life, much as they have always done. The modern world has yet to reach the inhabitants of this remote region of the Habsburg Empire. Among them is Piotr, a bandy-legged peasant, who wants nothing more from life than an official railway cap, a cottage, and a bride with a dowry.
But then the First World War reaches the mountains and Piotr is drafted into the army. All the weight of imperial authority is used to mould him into an unthinking fighting machine, forced to fight a war he does not understand, for interests other than his own.
The Salt of the Earth is a classic war novel and a powerfully pacifist tale about the consequences of war for ordinary men. You can read a synopsis here.
Józef Wittlin, born in 1896, was a major Polish poet, novelist, essayist and translator. He studied in Vienna, where he met Joseph Roth and Rainer Maria Rilke, before serving in the Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War. His subsequent experiences inspired him to write The Salt of the Earth, which was first published in 1935 to great success: it was awarded the Polish Natural Academy Prize, won Wittlin a nomination for the Nobel Prize, and has since been translated into 14 languages. Józef Wittlin also translated Homer’s Odyssey into Polish, published several collections of poetry, many of which were strongly pacifist, and penned numerous essays including ‘My Lwów’, which is included in City of Lions, also published by Pushkin Press (and which we read in 2016). With the outbreak of the Second World War he fled to France and then to New York, where he died in 1976.
The winner of the Witold Gombrowicz Prize for Literature (2020)
Seven stories connected by a fifteenth-century map of the world. Once upon a time, maps used to exhibit the boundaries of the known world. They soothed our fears, and simultaneously ignited our imagination, uncharted territory beckoning us from afar. Barbara Sadurska’s The Map – belligerent and refreshing in tone, narratively picaresque and nostalgic, structurally non-linear and precisely framed – does not attempt to cover hackneyed ground. It goes much further. In entertaining, it instructs. In instructing, it terrifies. It illuminates the fact that man knows as little about himself as the first cartographers knew about the world.
Barbara Sadurska (born 1974 in Brzesko, Poland) is a lawyer and writer. She has been awarded many prizes for her screenplays and theatre plays. In 2018 she received the main prize at the 14th International Short Story Festival for her story Moonlit Full. She debuted in Tworczosc, which she continues to regularly publish in, as well as Magazyn Wizje and Pismo. She recently published her short story collection, Mapa, which was inspired by the 2016 ISSF competition.
This collection features sometimes funny but mostly bitter short stories about ordinary people, whose habits and characters can feel very familiar. Bielawski’s sparse, unsentimental prose gradually creates portraits of the residents of an old tenement. His language is precise, seemingly simple, sometimes lightly stylised, and reading it is a real pleasure. But it makes us reflect on our everyday life, with its many disappointments and failures. In these stories we are all present, real and unfiltered.
This is is Bielawski’s first book to be translated into English. He won the prize for the best short story during Poland’s 13th International Short Story Festival in Wroclaw in 2017. Doctor Bianco was shortlisted for this years EBRD Literature Prize (European Bank of Reconstruction and Development). In Poland Bielawski is also known for his autobiographical novel Twarde parapety (Hard Windowsills) from 2016.
Brilliant, insightful snapshots of everyday reality. Olga Tokarczuk
Scotia Gilroy is a writer and translator from Vancouver. She has been living in Krakow for over a decade, where she works as a translator of Polish literature. Her works have been published in the journals Asymptote, BODY Literature, and by Comma Press and Indiana University Press, amongst others. She divides her time between Europe, Canada and the off-grid wilderness of Northern California.
Milan Kundera called Witold Gombrowicz “one of the great novelists of our century.” His most famous novel, Cosmos, the recipient of the 1967 International Prize for literature, is now available in a critically acclaimed translation by the award-winning translator Danuta Borchardt. Cosmos is a metaphysical noir thriller narrated by Witold, a seedy, pathetic, and witty student, who is charming and appalling by turns. On his way to a relaxing vacation he meets the despondent Fuks. As they set off together for a family-run pension in the Carpathian Mountains where they discover a dead bird hanging from a string. Is this a strange but meaningless occurrence or is it the beginning of a string of bizarre events?
Winner of the 2021 Found in Translation Award
First published in Polish in 1932, The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma was Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowicz’s breakout novel. Dyzma is an unemployed clerk who crashes a swanky party, where he makes an offhand crass remark that sets him on a new course. Soon high society—from government ministers to drug-fueled aristocrats—wants a piece of him. As Dyzma’s status grows, his vulgarity is interpreted as authenticity and strength. He is unable to comprehend complicated political matters, but his cryptic responses are celebrated as wise introspection. His willingness to do anything to hold on to power—flip-flopping on political positions, inventing xenophobic plots, even having enemies assaulted—only leads to greater success.
Dołęga-Mostowicz wrote his novel in a newly independent Poland rampant with political corruption and populist pandering. Jerzy Kosinski borrowed heavily from the novel when he wrote Being There, and readers of both books will recognize similarities between their plots. This biting political satire—by turns hilarious and disturbing, contemptuous and sympathetic—is an indictment of a system in which money and connections matter above all else, bluster and ignorance are valorized, and a deeply incompetent man rises to the highest spheres of government.
Kuba is a cocaine dealer in the dark, electric streets of Warsaw, believing he is smart enough to stay in control, unlike the top lawyers, doctors, TV personalities who are his client base.However, after calling in the debt of a failing nightclub owner, breaking his own rules on other people’s property and being caught in the consequences of his clients’ actions, all control starts to slip from his grasp.Now suffering under the glare of the spotlight and dragged into the dark underbelly of the drug world, Kuba must find a way through the middle of the whirlwind of violence and betrayal sweeping him away.
Warsaw under Russian rule in the late 1870s is the setting for Prus’s grand panorama of social conflict, political tension, and personal suffering. The middle-aged hero, Wokulski, successful in business, is being destroyed by his obsessive love for a frigid society doll, Izabela. Embattled aristocrats, the new men of finance, Dickensian tradesmen, and the urban poor all come vividly to life on the vast, superbly detailed canvas against which Wokulski’s personal tragedy is played out.
Unlike his Western European counterparts, Prus had to work under official censorship. In this edition, most of the smaller cuts made by the Tsarist censor have been restored, and one longer fragment is included as an appendix.
Prus’s major novel, originally published in 1890 and now available in a revised English translation, offers a richly detailed panoramic portrait of Warsaw under Russian domination in the 1870s, as well as a Balzacian plot that centers in the wealthy businessman Wokulski’s unrequited passion for the aristocratic, emotionless Izabela Lecka (the “”doll””–though not the only one–of Prus’s cunning title). Wokulski’s downward progression is counterpointed memorably against the expressions of optimism and idealism trumpeted by a brilliantly realized host of secondary characters–one of whom, the elderly clerk Rzecki, comes to life on the page with a positively Dickensian vitality. One of the greatest novels of the 19th century.
from The Kirkus Review
The Doll was translated in 1972 by David J. Welsh (1920-1985), Profesor of Slavonic Languages and Literature at Michigan University and published by Twayne Publishers, Inc. New York. The NYRB Classics edition was first published by Central European University Press in 1996 with an introduction by Stanisław Barańczak and revised translation by Dariusza Tłoczyk and Anna Zaranko. It follows the 20th century Polish critical editions.