Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Reading

I received a summer reading list of Polish and Polish Diaspora books from the Polish Cultural Institute and thought I would pass it on.

It's a terrific list!

The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution
by Alex Storozynski
Thomas Dunne Books, April 2009

…an objective history that is needed in today´s America and Poland. The hero… is one of the fathers of modern democracy in the same mold as Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln. – Adam Michnik, Solidarnosc activist and editor in chief of Gazeta Wyborcza

…a sweeping, colorful, and absorbing biography that should restore Kosciuszko to his proper place in history – Andrew Nagorski, Newsweek

Readers of military and American history should take note: the minute details will enthrall devotees. Casual readers will benefit from Storozynski's expert crafting of a readable and fact-filled story that pulls readers into the immediacy of the revolutionary era's partisan and financial troubles. – Publishers Weekly

In a meticulously researched work, Storozynski greatly enhances our understanding of Kosciuszko´s personality and motivations by investigating the Pole´s relationship and feelings toward Africans, Jews, and peasants. His contribution advances our knowledge of this complex character whom Jefferson considered the ‘purest son of liberty’ he ever knew. – James Pula, Purdue University

…a testament to a great man and an important addition to world history. – Byron E. Price, Texas Southern University

Performative Democracy
by Elzbieta Matynia
Paradigm Publishers (The Yale Cultural Sociology Series), January 2009

Spanning Polish history from the days of incipient rebellion against Communist rule through the Solidarity movement of the 1980s to today s democratic Poland, Performative Democracy sheds new light on what it is people are doing when they act democratically. Even as Matynia, who participated in many of the events she describes, elucidates their common features, she captures and infectiously renders their exhilarating atmosphere and spirit to the reader. – Jonathan Schell, author of The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence and the Will of the People

The Contract; A Life for a Life
by Joseph S. Kutrzeba
iUniverse.com, November 2008

The book, based on the author's memoirs, relates the odyssey of a 13-year old boy in Nazi-occupied Warsaw during World War II, who had joined the Resistance movement, later surviving several hair-raising escapes, until his liberation.

The Other
by Ryszard Kapuscinski
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones Verso, October 2008

Looking at the concept of the Other through the lens of his own encounters in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and considering its formative significance for his work, Kapuscinski traces how the West has understood the Other from classical times to colonialism, from the age of enlightenment to the postmodern global village.

Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past In Bosnia
by Wojciech Tochman
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Atlas & Co., September 2008

…the Polish journalist Wojciech Tochman chronicles the aftermath of war in Bosnia and, if anything, confirms that the so-called peace has brought little actual peace. Yet he is not polemical about this point; instead, he relies on suggestive details, pungent quotes and simple, understated prose that is mannered at times but powerful in its own way. – Matthew Price, The New York Times Book Review

This is reportage of the highest order – reportage that employs the specific to tell a universal truth. [A] profound meditation on the horrors of war, [Tochman´s] work is all the more powerful for leaving the answers to terrible questions hanging. – Financial Times

[Tochman's] style is all the more powerful for its restraint: outrage speaks terribly for itself, needs no hype, no color. – Sunday Times (UK)

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer
by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong
Random House, April 2001

During the German occupation of Poland, Irena Gut, a young Polish Catholic, was forced to work as head housekeeper for a high ranking German SS officer. Over a two-year period of service, Irena would risk her own life in order to protect the lives of twelve Jews whom she secretly took under her care. In 1982 Irena Gut Opdyke was named by the Israeli Holocaust Commission a Righteous Among the Nations. The Vatican has given her a special commendation, and her story is part of a permanent exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Between Fire and Sleep: Essays on Modern Polish Poetry
by Jaroslaw Anders
Yale University Press, April 2009

In this insightful book, Jaroslaw Anders looks at how the major works of 20th-century Polish literatureconstantly transformed historical experience into the metaphysical, philosophical, or religious exploration of human existence. Between Fire and Sleep offers a fresh understanding of modern Polish culture.

Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic
by Roman Koropeckyj
Cornell University Press, November 2008

Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), Poland's national poet, was one of the extraordinary personalities of the age. Roman Koropeckyj draws a portrait of the Polish poet as a quintessential European Romantic. This richly illustrated biography-the first scholarly biography of the poet to be published in English since 1911-draws extensively on diaries, memoirs, correspondence, and the poet's literary texts to make sense of a life as sublime as it was tragic.

Re-Reading Grotowski
A special issue of TDR: The Drama Review
guest-edited by Kris Salata and Lisa Wolford Wylam
MIT Press Journals, May 2008

(Publication was made possible in part by a grant from the Polish Cultural Institute in New York)

This important issue of TDR: The Drama Review includes previously unpublished material by Jerzy Grotowski, plus articles on theatre companies and artists who preceded and have followed in the footsteps of the great Polish theatre artist.

The Law of the Looking Glass: Cinema in Poland, 1896–1939
by Sheila Skaff
Ohio University Press, August 2008

In this, the first comprehensive history of Poland´s film industry before World War II, author Skaff describes how the major issues facing the region before World War I, from the relatively slow pace of modernization to the desire for national sovereignty, shaped local practices in film production, exhibition, and criticism.

The Mighty Angel
by Jerzy Pilch
translated by Bill Johnston
Open Letter Books, April 2009

Pilch masterfully plays with the tradition of the drunkard novel, demonstrating just how close the alcoholic´s self-fashioning is to the writer´s self-narration. In this way, Pilch´s novel constitutes an act of belief in literature… The book´s wonderful, delirious and baroque style imparts the experience of dependence, exclusion, and loneliness, as well as the overcoming of loneliness through love. – Maria Janion, head of the jury for the 2001 NIKE Literary Award

They Carry a Promise: Selected Poems
by Janusz Szuber
translated by Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough
Knopf, May 2009

Szuber's work is poised between the rigors of making poetry and life itself in all its messy glory, between the devastations of history and the quiet act of observing our place in it all.

Szuber's poetry speaks to the hard part of the soul. – Zbigniew Herbert

Been and Gone
by Julian Kornhauser
translated by Piotr Florczyk
Marick Press, April 2009

Like his associates Baranczak, Krynicki, and Zagajewski, Julian Kornhauser is a major figure of the New Wave generation of Polish poets. This remarkable selection from his recent work brings this important Polish writer into English for the first time.

And Still More:

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

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

New Translation!
by Witold Gombrowicz
translated by Danuta Borchardt
Grove / Atlantic, forthcoming November 2009

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

Hollywood's War with Poland, 1939-1945
by M.B.B. Biskupski
Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, forthcoming December 2009


Daiva Markelis said...

Hmmm. I believe that two of the writers are really Lithuanian, or half-Lithuanian. At least that's what they told me in Lithuanian Saturday school. Maybe I;ll just have to read the two books to find out! Thanks for sharing the list.

Leonard Kress said...


Thanks for posting this. Didn't know there was a new Mickiewicz bio, as well as the poetry study Anders. Good stuff and it's not even Christmas.