Nie jest to ani książka, ani Polska, do której chciałabym wracać. Ale nie jest to książka zła. Na pewno wciąga. Wydaje się, że jest napisana na fali b...moreNie jest to ani książka, ani Polska, do której chciałabym wracać. Ale nie jest to książka zła. Na pewno wciąga. Wydaje się, że jest napisana na fali bestsellerowskich kryminałów ze Skandynawii- krytyka społeczna ubrana w kryminalny wątek. Nawet głowna bohaterka nieco przypomina Lisbeth Salander. I byłoby to zupełnie wystarczające i zupełnie ok, ale najwyraźniej autorka miała większe ambicje. Jest tam pomieszanie stylów pisarskich, które moim zdaniem tylko mącą i osłabiają ostateczną wymowę książki. Są tam elementy legendy, powieści gotyckiej, satyry, pastiszu, poezji. W efekcie ta książka nie wie na pewno czym chce być - literaturą piekną, literaturą faktu, kryminałem? To też byłoby w porządku gdyby to wszystko dobrze grało ze soba, ale dla mnie nie pasowało to do poważnej tematyki tam poruszanej. W jakiś sposób ją pomniejszało. Może to co piszę tu jest tylko i wyłącznie miarą rozczarowania i niespełnionych oczekiwan, bo nie jest to książka jakiej sie spodziewałam po przeczytaniu Japońskiego Wachlarza. Kto wie. 3.5/5 And, for my English speaking friends, not exactly the same but the gist of it: I really enjoyed Bator’s Japanese Fan and had big hopes for this book, especially that it got the 2013 Nike- the Polish equivalent of a Booker. It was definitely a compelling read- I tore through 500 pages in one day, but it was not what I expected. I expected something deeper, and this is more of dark thriller in the vein of The Girl Who Played With Fire with literary aspirations for more. I am not saying that there are no good parts there- there is a very sober, satirical look at the contemporary Polish society, some great descriptions of Walbrzych, and a nicely executed consistent watercolour-like black and white imagery. Yet, there are too many clever twists and turns, too many quirky characters, too much quirkiness in general in light of a very grave topic it deals with. (less)
I read it twice. First of all because it was extremely well written, but also to make sure who was who in the labyrinth of events and scenes. The book...moreI read it twice. First of all because it was extremely well written, but also to make sure who was who in the labyrinth of events and scenes. The book is narrated in a series of episodes and the style goes from colloquial, casual conversation to poetic narration. It's as if the story is told in a form of neighbourly gossip and sometimes real names are used, and sometimes nicknames or pseudonyms. Point of view changes from that what slightly naive young teenagers might observe and understand to adult stream of consciousness. The characters are fantastically colourful and flamboyant and images short yet meaningful, reminiscent of the way a poem can be pointed and meaningful. They all depict a small group of people who found themselves in a small neighborhood in Silesia as refugees from the lands taken by Stalin as a result of Yalta agreement. As a result of it, the eastern terrains of Poland became part of Soviet Union and the German East Prussia and Silesia became Polish. The displacement was both Polish and German with Jewish persecution mixed in, and it's shown very well in the book. And then on top of that came the madness of the Soviet installed pseudo-communist regime. The characters come and go and appear again many years later and the narration comes and goes in snatches the way their life unfolded. Some of it is quite disturbing, but all of it extremely well-written.(less)
A great romp through the life and traditions of the Polish mountain people "Górale" complete with tall tales and the mountain people dialect. Incisive...moreA great romp through the life and traditions of the Polish mountain people "Górale" complete with tall tales and the mountain people dialect. Incisive, colorful, and very engaging. If I were to compare Kuczok to a North American writer here, he is as good writing about the Tatra Mountains and their inhabitants as Annie Proulx is about Wyoming. I am also guessing that their efforts may be equally unlikely to be appreciated by the autochthons. Great and intelligent stuff, even if a bit biting... (less)
Powiem szczerze, ze chętniej słuchałam Wojciecha Manna w czasach kiedy słuchałam Polskiego Radia. Ale Niedzwiecki był zawsze bardzo równy, dowcipny i...morePowiem szczerze, ze chętniej słuchałam Wojciecha Manna w czasach kiedy słuchałam Polskiego Radia. Ale Niedzwiecki był zawsze bardzo równy, dowcipny i niezmiernie kulturalny- nie ma co do tego żadnych wątpliwości. Przynajmniej takiego go pamiętam. Książkę przeczytałam trochę przypadkiem- znajoma zostawiła ja u mnie na wszelki wypadek gdyby mnie zainteresowała. Jest ok- żadnych rewelacji, ale czytało się milo. Najwięcej jest w niej o dzieciństwie i o podróżach. I zestawy z lat list przebojów Trojki i trochę fragmentów z pamiętników. Nie mogę się oprzeć wrażeniu, ze jest to autobiografia bardzo powściągliwa- kurtyna za ktora ukrywa sie zycie prywatne jest ledwie uchylona.(less)
It is a very good, but profoundly depressing book. Apart from an opening essay on Bata – the Czech whose shoes became famous worldwide - it deals with...moreIt is a very good, but profoundly depressing book. Apart from an opening essay on Bata – the Czech whose shoes became famous worldwide - it deals with the hardcore communist times in Czechoslovakia. It’s very unsettling to realize the extent of control and terror that the regime had. It eerily reminds one that it was indeed Kafka’s country- ‘where the life of the accused is the crime in itself.’ Szczygiel’s second book on Czechoslovakia, Make Yourself a Paradise, is lighter, the stories are more quirky. The absurdity of the communist system there is a mere absurdity, you don’t feel it as a killing force, whereas here people not only lose their freedom, they lose their sanity or their lives- they are either killed or they kill themselves.(less)
Now that I’ve read Szczygiel’s collection of essays on Czech people, Make Yourself a Pradise, I must say, I like the Czechs- the self professed most a...moreNow that I’ve read Szczygiel’s collection of essays on Czech people, Make Yourself a Pradise, I must say, I like the Czechs- the self professed most atheist society in Europe. It doesn’t really matter that it’s not entirely true, Estonians and Swedes are. Yet, this is how they feel, and this is what they boast of. Szczygiel devotes a lot of space to Czech atheism. He examines it with tangible and visible disbelief- he is Polish after all. What fascinates him is not only how the Czechs cope in daily life without God, but also lack of reverence shown to Czech priests and Christian icons- Christ having sex, no first page covers for Pope Ratzinger visiting the Czech Republic, life not religious in any way, not even in the way of burial.
He introduces us to an unbelievably colourful cast of Czech characters, who happen to be real people: philosophers, photographers, writers, sculptors, and through them introduces us to the Czech national character, so different from the character of the neighbouring Poland. Whereas the Czechs like to laugh and laugh at themselves, are easy going, unassuming, valiant yet easy, the Poles are awfully solemn and full of pathos. Yes, they have their problems too. They are not very fond of the immigration from Asia, and they have their own contingent of skinheads, yet, citing after Szczygiel- in the Czech Republic 'pohoda' is most important. "Pohoda” - good mood, calm, sunny disposition, coziness of space, peaceful relationships. In short, do not be unpleasant. “Pohoda” likes beer. (less)
The book deals with a relatively little publicized piece of Polish WWII history- the displacement of 1.5 million Polish civilians from the eastern par...moreThe book deals with a relatively little publicized piece of Polish WWII history- the displacement of 1.5 million Polish civilians from the eastern parts of Poland, their deportation to Siberia by the invading Russians in 1939, their subsequent labour camp experience and journeys through the Soviet republics to the Middle East and Africa following an amnesty in 1941 to join the newly formed Polish army in exile.
The family at the center of the story is from a farm in Pilsudczyzna- the land in the east of Poland. The family fortunes are narrated from four points of view: Andrzej’s – the father of the family, Zofia’s- his wife, and Helcia’s and Henryk’s- their older children. Their voices weave in and out as they are thrown apart to different places and then get together again. The characters are well drawn I enjoyed the narrative, poems, and maps and illustrations. I could have used some more details, but it was a good and interesting read. The book is scheduled to be published in Dec 2010.(less)
This is an excellent Polish novel. It’s thoroughly modern and engaging. It reflects the mobility and transience of our contemporary life. The frame fo...moreThis is an excellent Polish novel. It’s thoroughly modern and engaging. It reflects the mobility and transience of our contemporary life. The frame for it is travelling: airports, different places around the globe- unnamed yet recognizable and sometimes just nowhere in particular yet everywhere. The structure is fragmentary- short, few page long snippets, images, fragments of narration of accidental meetings of fellow travellers, their stories, stories of places. The structure reflects the fragmentary nature of our experience, boundless curiosity pushing us forward to explore, seeking what, immortality? Staying forever young? Better life? Or, is it just wanderlust? Difficult to tell. Also difficult to tell if it’s fiction or non-fiction. A bit of both, I guess. Something Byatt's Frederica would perhaps call 'laminations".
There is no good translation of the title. Bieguni can be translated as runners, or it can be translated as pilgrims. The title is borrowed from the name of an Orthodox Christian sect whose members tried to avoid evil by moving about and changing places.(less)