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A Minor Apocalypse

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  604 ratings  ·  24 reviews
"A Minor Apocalypse, which last year brought its author the prestigious Italian Mondello Prize," writes George Theiner in the British Bookseller, "is likely to make Tadeusz Konwicki the best-known contemporary East European writer after Solzhenitsyn and the Czech novelist Milan Kundera." The masterwork of a prolific Polish writer, A Minor Apocalypse is the story of what ma...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1979)
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88th out of 380 books — 296 voters


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Community Reviews

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Megha
Aug 06, 2013 Megha rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Nate D
Jul 21, 2011 Nate D rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Adaś
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.


Rachel Denham
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...more
Jonathon
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
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...more
Jonfaith
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
Farzane Fahimian
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
Anthony
"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.
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.
Ron
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...more
Jonathan
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
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...more
Jafar
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.
Hokomoko
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.
Rosalie
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.
Christopher
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
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.
Anna
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.
Andrew
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.
Bronwen
Difficult storyline, but an excellent book.
Marcus Gosling
Brilliant, multi-layered, surreal.
will
This book is utterly brilliant.
Kobe Bryant
Yeah its minor alright. Boom
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