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A Minor Apocalypse

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  868 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
As in his novel The Polish Complex, Konwicki's A Minor Apocalypse stars a narrator and character named Konwicki, who has been asked to set himself on fire that evening in front of the Communist Party headquarters in Warsaw in an act of protest. He accepts the commission, but without any clear idea of whether he will actually go through with the self-immolation. He spends t ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,560)
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Aug 06, 2013 Megha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megha by: [P]

We weren't quite on the same page, this book and I.

When I first heard that this book had to do with a man who had been ordered to set himself on fire, I was immediately all ears. Such an intriguing premise! Will he decide to go through with it? How does one convince him/her self and build up the courage to die for a greater cause? What would be the thoughts running through his mind as he spends the last few hours of his life? Such were the questions I wished to learn about as I started reading t
Nate D
Jul 21, 2011 Nate D rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: exhausted heretics, state officials ready to take off their clothes
Recommended to Nate D by: the 35th or is it 50th anniversary of the People's State
Waking one Warsaw morning to thoughts of death and the end of the world, Tadeusz Konwicki receives a series of visitors: a drunken official notifies him that his water will be cut off for maintenance, a plumber arrives to turn off his gas in the wake of a recent gas-leak explosion at another building, and two friends from the dissident literati stop in to notify him that he's been selected as the best candidate to self-immolate on the steps of the party headquarters that night (enough name-recog ...more
Czarny Pies
Mar 30, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it it was ok
Shelves: polish-lit
This book is piffle, highly entertaining piffle albeit, but piffle. Written and published during the martial law period when the Solidarity movement was driven underground and many of its leaders were in jail, the author who profoundly misreads the true political lay of the land decides to settle accounts with those intellectuals of Poland who first flirted with Solidarity and then went scurrying back to their regular communist patrons once the government declared martial law and began jailing S ...more
Lorenzo Berardi

I had very high expectations for "A Minor Apocalypse" and am now quite undecided on how to rate this book.
On the one hand this novel is an excellent allegory of the state Poland - read Warsaw - was in at the end of the 1970s and is full of glittering literary inventions.
And yet, on the other hand, after a quite promising start the book derails into a sort of grotesque parody à la Grosz where it becomes really hard keeping track of what's going on: at least for me.

Konwicki wrote "A Minor Apocalyp
Jan 13, 2016 brian rated it it was amazing
makes a compelling case to light yourself on fire, even for a cause your are not sure you believe in.
J.M. Hushour
Sep 09, 2015 J.M. Hushour rated it it was amazing
I'd definitely count this as one of the best novels I've read in a long time, one of those wacky books that combines both diluvian pathos and shits n' giggles with incredible results. A washed-up Polish author is asked by his friends opposing the Soviet-leaning Polish government of 1979 to set himself on fire on the steps of the Palace of Culture during a celebration for a visiting Russian official.
Thing is, is that the "opposition" is reliant on the regime for survival and the two bands of bast
Aug 17, 2014 Adaś rated it it was amazing
Konwicki provides immense insight into life in the decaying corpse of late-Communism. Guilt, hypocrisy, and stagnation are foundations of the Warsaw through which Konwicki (the main character) meanders in contemplation as to whether his possible self-immolation that night in front of the Party Congress building will be worth it. All this while maintaining a
"benign" hangover. Tense work.

Ben Winch
I really wanted to like Konwicki for a while there - he seemed potentially right up my alley. But I couldn't make it through A Dreambook..., I don't remember The Polish Complex and this one just irritated me: formless, artless, confused, an unlikeable voice that I soon tired of listening to.
Rachel Denham
Jul 30, 2007 Rachel Denham rated it it was amazing
I would definitely give this book 4.5-5 stars and recommend it to anyone interested in Eastern European/Polish literature. My only complaint is that I wished I could have read it all at one time because it chronicles one day in this man's life so there weren't any chapters, which made it somewhat difficult to come back and to understand everything that had been going on beforehand.

I'm sure that there was a lot that I didn't understand, having never studied Polish History in-depth. Basically, all
May 06, 2013 Jonathon rated it liked it
Just started, it's very good. A "Tad" (get it...whatever) over-dramatic/emotional in the language and a bit wordy, but pretty good so far! Some passages wreak too much of sincerity and lack any healthy irony or self doubt...If that makes sense...I don't know... There are some funny parts. I feel the style is like a watered down Louis Ferdinand Celine (I swear to god I compare everything to him, how unoriginal). I will keep you posted on it as I read, though you could fill your time with better t ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Jonfaith rated it really liked it
While this wasn't a natural selection for the holidays, I did elect to read this at Christmas; a time during my 20s when neither rigor or resignation were at hand: guess which one I chose? This novel had been discovered and purchased at Twice-Told and I read it in two days seated at Table Eight, pausing between espresso and pints of pilsner to ask Roger about Poland in the 1980s. What resulted was a gnawing sense of historical displacement and a need to publicly explore my worthlessness. I told ...more
Feb 08, 2014 Farzane rated it liked it
در کشور من فقر وجود ندارد . فقر معاصر ما مثل شیشه فرانما و مثل هوا نادیدنی ست. فقر ما صفهای یک کیلومتری، هل دادن دایمی، مقامهای رسمی کینه توز،تأخیر بی دلیل قطارها، قطع جریان آب از سر بدبیاری، یا کمبود آب، تعطیل شدن نامنتظر یک فروشگاه، همسایه ای دیوانه، روزنامه های دروغگو، ساعتها سخنرانی در تلویزیون به جای اخبار ورزشی، اجبار به تعلق داشتن به حزب، ماشین لباسشویی شکسته ی یک فروشگاه دولتی که در آن می توانید همه چیز را به دلار بخرید، یکنواختی زندگی بی هیچ امیدی، شهرهای تاریخی رو به زوال، خالی شدن شهر ...more
Feb 07, 2016 James rated it it was amazing
This is a novel about the "end of the world" for an aging Polish writer named Konwicki who has built a reputation as a representative of the people in their battle against the oppressive Communist government and its Soviet allies. As we meet him he thinks about his night . It was one that when he went to sleep he began to "understand the meaning of existence, time, and the life beyond this one. I understand that mystery for a fraction of a second, through an instant of distant memories, a brief ...more
Nov 20, 2009 Anthony rated it it was amazing
"The regime has grown accustomed to them and they've grown accustomed to the regime. The opposition, the regime, they're the same thing, part and parcel of each other." Thus, Konwicki (part author, part character) wanders the streets of Warsaw contemplating the task that awaits him at day's end: self-immolation by fire. At times surreal, A Minor Apocalypse is both hilarious and heartfelt, raising questions that remain pertinent in today's terror-driven world.
Jun 16, 2016 Kriegslok rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Day after day passes slowly. Lifes neck is ever longer. Everything's fucked as fucked as can be. We're not free, we're not free" -b Set in the dying days of the PRL and inspired by the absurditites of life in the crumbling Polish State this surreal satire seems just as applicable to our world today. As with many of his Soviet Bloc contemporaries Tadeusz Konwicki demonstrates the inspiration provided by a political system that actively attempted to control thought and creativity. For me the book ...more
Mar 10, 2014 Ron rated it it was amazing
Konwicki delves into the growing fascism--it is an anarchist novel which portrays this as the way of world history--in the eastern bloc in the early 80s with great passion and insight into the human character with a horrifying story featuring himself as a character on the way to self immolation as a political act. Along the way we meet friends and admirers and a small dog and see the corruption of those who have sold out and sought redemption.

The structural abuses is well illustrated by those w
Angel Alfonso
May 27, 2015 Angel Alfonso rated it it was ok
This is a very interesting book, even though I just rated it with 2 stars. It was written around a very important period of Polish history (last century's eighties), and it is a very interesting and quite realistic (taking everything into account) view of the Communist Poland. All characters that appear throughout the book, all the situations, all the meetings the writer has while he lets time go by waiting for the moment to set himself on fire in front of the Communist Party headquarters, are q ...more
Jul 02, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Good, with some wonderful scenes and scathing critique of Poland in the late 70s/early 80's but, for some reason, I never really felt like I got much past its surface.
Steve Anderson
Feb 02, 2014 Steve Anderson rated it really liked it
Somber and thought-provoking are the two words that come to mind reading Tadeusz Konwicki’s novel. While not knowing a lot about Polish history, I have spent a few months in Poland and heard stories about life under communism. This novel is a fascinating look at Poland when, according to the author, the opposition and the government were more partners than adversaries.

It’s also the story of an older man’s perspective on a life time of struggle and compliance. The story, which takes place in one
Apr 27, 2015 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: cult-fiction
While the writing is enjoyable enough, it seems that one should have a decent amount of knowledge about Poland and its relationship with communism to fully appreciate the satire.
Aug 24, 2014 Jafar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a Polish writer who is told by the other members of the opposition to set himself on fire in front of the Communist Party building. He accepts, and what follows is a dark and absurd comedy-tragedy that becomes the last day of his life. Konwicki is brilliant in the way he portrays life under a repressive and dysfunctional totalitarian system based on a dangerously loony ideology. Communist Poland and Islamic Iran. Similarities abound.
Mar 03, 2015 Hokomoko rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-fantasy
I found this book brilliant, exactly what I had hoped from the recommendations. The novel presents a larger than life, dream-like end of a hated socialist era. An old novelist at the end of his problematic and bitter life takes stock and encounters fate in grand sarcastic black humor. Put on the shelf next to Master & Margarita.
Sep 18, 2013 Rosalie rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful yet wicked books I have ever read. Though I guess its true meaning is only visible for Poles and other western nations because of our mentality and history. In other cases the book might be pretty pointles at times and too confusing.
Sep 25, 2008 Christopher rated it it was ok
This was an ok read. It gives good insight into life in Poland during socialism, the fear, the distrust, the apathy. As a novel however, I find that it drifts a little listlessly to and fro, and I found myself caring little for any of the characters.
Sergio GRANDE films
Nov 15, 2012 Sergio GRANDE films rated it really liked it
A crazy book. A subversive story about self-immolation, Communism in Warsaw and existential angst amongst other things. Weird and entertaining.
Shouldn't be at the top of your list but make a point of reading it sometime.
Feb 08, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it
Very good story. Main character is a writer who decides to burn himself on a square in front of Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, a gift from USSR to Polish citizens. It's very grotesque.
Dec 19, 2013 Andrew rated it it was ok
Shelves: polish, fiction
It was alright. Had its moments where Konwicki's excellent word wizardry had me locked, and its moments where I may have skimmed a chapter here and there.
Nov 03, 2008 Bronwen rated it really liked it
Difficult storyline, but an excellent book.
Marcus Gosling
Apr 30, 2013 Marcus Gosling rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, multi-layered, surreal.
Sep 30, 2007 will rated it it was amazing
This book is utterly brilliant.
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