21:37 BY Mariusz Czubaj

Mariusz-Czubaj-2137-Cover-136x208

21:37 By Mariusz Czubaj

Polish crime fiction

Translator Anne Hyde

Original title 21:37

Source – review Copy

I’ve not read as many Polish crime book as I would like over the Years ,this is the latest to my list and from one of my favourite new Publishers Stork books .Mariusz Czubaj  he is a professor of cultural anthropology in Warsaw and is also on the editorial panel  of the quarterly Popular culture a magazine following trends in popular culture around the world .21:37 is his first book to be translated to English .,in Poland it won the High calibre prize for the best Polish crime novel .Here is a link to Mariusz’s ten favourite crime novels also an interview

 He was a profiler, the best in the country ,a specialist marking out unknown criminal offenders .A lonely hunter tracking savage ,unique types such as serial killer ,rapists or pyromaniacs .And he was a hunter barely tolerated by the police regulars .

He finally understood it would never change when he turned forty .He would never find his place .At work they saw him as a weirdo and an outsider ,a specialist in out-of-this-world ,imagined theories ,which ,by sheer luck ,could be useful in capturing murders of different sorts .

A complex man is our Rudolf Heinz

Well THE books title follows a discovery two bodies of naked men have been found with numbers written on them on has 21 on one and 37 on the other turn up near the olmpic ground in Warsaw  .This case lands at the feet of the main character of the book the guitar playing brown belt karate fighter Rudolf Heinz ,he is a late middle age criminal profiler .Now it happens these two numbers are the exact time that Pope had died is this a clue or a red herring .This leads Rudolf to a conflict with high-ranking officers and church figures as he searches for the killer but also to try to keep his own neck of the line .Will the man from upper Silesia  break the case ? Also why were there Pink triangles on the bodies as well as the numbers ? (short than my usual book description but sometimes feel I give too much away and this is one you need to read !)

There are many psycho around me ,Heinz thought half an hour later,lying in the darkness with earphones in his ears .

He was listening to john lee hooker singing about the flood in Tupelo .Yet again it took a long time to fall asleep .

One of the numerous references to music .

For me a crime book to appeal to me as a reader , it is the man Character(policeman ,profiler or detective ) I have to connect with and Rudolf Heinz is one detective I did really connect with ,he loves Rock music and the references litter through the book to music and food remind me of other detective series I have enjoyed ,at times the nearest figure from Crime fiction I’ve read I was Rankin’s rebus ,Because Heinz also likes a drink  , the  frequent references to music  as well  (lot of Rankin’s book titles are song references ). He is a similar age to Rebus in the books from  that series I loved .But this book is Polish at its heart the main clues seem to bring  connect to the church and the seminar .It appears this is the first in a couple of book with Rudolf Heinz .I hope we get to follow Heinz and see how he moves on from here .Anna Hyde did a good job on the translation which kept the pace going .Again I loved another polish crime writer surely not be long before Polish crime is the new Nordic noir !

Have you a favourite crime writer in Translation ?

Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz

TD-covers

Mother departs by Tadeusz Różewicz

Polish prose and poetry

Original  title Matka odchodzi

Translated by Barbara Bogoczek

Source – review copy

Tadeusz Różewicz is one of the foremost Polish poets and writer ,he was a solider in the polish underground army ,and after the war which he lost his brother Janusz ,Tadeusz Różewicz  he has written Poetry ,Prose and plays  his early play the card index is considered the first example of the Theatre  of absurd in polish .In 2007 he one the European literature prize ,Mother departs also won the Nine prize in Poland the sort of  polish booker prize .He is considered the last of what was called Poland’s golden age poets .

So mother departs is one of those books that is hard to pigeon-hole ,Like a number of other polish books I ve read this tends to blur the lines .Memoir ,prose ,diaries poems and photos all form a rememberance built by Tadeusz Różewicz  to his late mother ,she died of cancer in 1957 ,this book written in 2000 is an older man looking back on his connection to his mother ,his mothers legacy ,through him and through his late brother .The effect feels like a lid being lifted on the innermost workings of a family and the Matriarch of that family  .Now many of you that read this blog may know or those that know me via twitter I struggle at times with poetry so for the poetry in this book it is hard for me to benchmark it as good or bad .I like them the style is quite short and clipped there is spaces in his words that I felt I had to fill in if you know what I mean .

 WICKED SON

I look through the window

with its pink flower frame

 

Outside the cats are getting drenched

and my old mother

draws some murky water

with saintly hands

 

In the window with a sly smile

her son stands

 

In the window  with a sly smile

her son stands

1941

One of the poems that I connected to a bit .

Now the prose pieces I feel better placed to mention and comment on ,I found the first pieces called the village of my childhood ,quite enticing ,the way it described a the village of his youth .A fly in amber the old ways are brought to the fore ,in a piece that remembers the  village he grew up in ,this is all the more because it isn’t  Tadeusz piece no this prose piece was written by his late mother and is heart-warming and heart aching at the same time .We see the brothers go to war ,only grabbing chance visits with his mother during the war as they fought the Nazis ,then we see Tadsuz try to become a writer in the post war Poland ,he has been a writer that has according to the polish version of his wiki page has transcended genre at times ,interested in many styles of writing but never quite being pigeon holed and this is how I would describe the piece and feel of this book ,yes memoir ,yes prose poetry .But not fully either ,one could almost say the reportage that Polish writers post world war two have often been known for the likes of Kapuscinski or Stasiuk are well-known ,has been turned internally on to  the family trying to find what the mother was and what she meant  to her family .by bring together pieces from all the family to try to grasp the meaning of being a mother in the Poland of the time a shifting world from independence in 1918 ,through the dark war years and the into the bleak Post war communist times .But be easy to see this as bleak but no this book is littered with a humour that is dark and the sort that laughs at the bad times .

Mother’s eyes which can see everything watch the birth watch throughout life and watch after death from the “other world ” .Even if they turned her son into a killing machine or a beast a murderer mother’s eyes are looking at him with love …looking

From the piece now ,don’t all mothers have love in their eyes .

Well I’m not sure I ve put over the full beauty of this book ,because it is .We all have Mothers or a maternal figure within or lives and if I could write something like this about my mother to go through time as a remembrance and testament  to her ,I would be proud .I like thanks Joanne of stork who had invited me to the above event that video is from but it was a couple of days after I was in london shame would love to have met the man ,he is a true great and talent .

 

Do you have a favourite book on mothers ?

Diary by Witold Gombrowicz

Diary by Witold Gombrowicz

Translated by Lillian Vallee

Polish non fiction

 

Witold Gombrowicz was an ex pat Polish writer ,when he got stuck in Argentina  at the out break of world war two .He had already  written a number of books back in Poland  before he went to Argentina ,the most well-known been Ferdydurke a novel about a thirty year old writer being haunted by his former tutor  his debut which from his own words was maybe his best book .This set the theme for most of Gombrowicz writing life deep psychological themes and questioning of Polish society and culture .Any way to the book in question which is his  Diary and is what it says on the cover it is Gombrowicz diary for the years 1953 til his death in 1969 ,these entries were published in the polish Magazine Kulutra .Most of the time in Argentina although near the end of his life Gombrowicz did return to europe to live .

1953

Monday

Me.

Tuesday

Me

Wednesday

Me

Thursday

Me

Friday

Josefa Radzyminska has magnanimously provide me with a dozen or so issues of Widomosci and Zycie (life and the literary news )

The opening of the diary and a rather witty start .

 

Now from its opening you can see both Gombrowicz deepness of thought  and his humour which is quite dry  at times .So this for the   diary  it is hard to pin down it isn’t really a diary in the straightforward sense  as such ,No it is  so much more it is the outpouring of a great writer ,no I’ll go further  a great mind .Granted  at times you disagree with him at times on some of his views  ,he has little time for Proust ,he also had various views good and bad on his fellow countrymen most of which he does go into depth with over the course of this book .WE also so see the many trends of the time things such as  , existentialism , Marxism , phenomenology . structuralism .This marks Gombrowicz as a great Polemic writer he does have strong views on most things he discusses in the book ,these views also set what made him such a great fiction writer as his insight into so many things seemed well thought out and in-depth .

The flaws of Proust’s book are enormous and innumerable -a gold mine of defects .His duel with time ,based on an exaggerated ,naive faith in the power of art -this is the professional mysticism of a crazed aesthete and artist .His psychological analyses could drag out into infinity ,for they are only embroidering on observations -they are not exploratory .

He was not a real Proust fan it seems .

Then at other times you marvel at Gombrowicz ability to recount the writers of his day and also his looking in at the polish literature scene from the outside ,this is definitely one of those books you need a notebook for the names of writers you are unaware of (although this said most of the ones I have looked up seem to be out of print in English a great shame ) also one of those books I can see myself returning over the coming years for quotes and insights into writers he has mentioned or encountered . I felt  via this book you get a real sense of polish literature up to the late sixties .Then we also  get his insight into Poland as a place and culture  there isn’t the wistful looking back and yearning you expect of an exile no Gombrowicz opens his homeland up and pulls it to piece bit by bit ,so you see how it became the place it was when he left and since he left .Then we see the life of an exile working in a bank ,mundane at times but his slow move into the lit society of ex pats and Argentinians ,also his late night meeting with younger guys .Gombrowicz manages to catch what it is to be an intellectual but without that feeling of him showing it off to you as a reader ,you feel he knew this or else he wouldn’t have  had a successful column in   Kultura for ten plus years .

Now strange enough  John Self happen to mention he had been reading Gombrowicz novel because Keith Ridgway had mention him as a writer to read ,but I had already read the diary’s before he mention this  in his post ,strange we both come at a great writer via different routes ,well I had read Ferdydurke by chance many, many  years ago and had forgotten about him as a writer til I saw a Yale press tweet about the diaries coming out  (the book I read had a funky graffiti style cover and was published in the sixties I mainly borrowed it from library due to the cover rather than the writer , but Yale have just put out a new edition ) .I must admit this is maybe given me a feeling for diaries as a form of writing I need to read more off so suggestions welcome (I know of Woolf’s thou ).I would say this is a book that any lover of writing and writers would love it is a great insight into a writers mind .

Have you a favourite Polish writer ?

winstons coffee waterstone’s 11 what not one translation !!

Well sure you’ve seen around the blogosphere these last few days post about the Waterstone’s 11 for 11 debut novels due out this year or already out .Well I m disappointed as not one of the debuts is a translation ,as ever books in translation are not considered for this list .Well I thought for those who may like a few tips on debut books in translation I give you a few books that are due out and are debut’s or reissuses worth looking into  –

The coming by Andrej Nikoladis – A debut from the european literature prize-winning Montenegrin writer .A detective investigating a crime in a small town is drawn in to an odd world as the library burns down and you take a trip through the past and a medieval heretic that announced the second coming  also events that might happen . from the  new publisher  Istros books .

The brothers by Asko Sahlberg – the first of Peirene press year of small epics a book from finland about brother that thought on different sides of the war of 1809 between  finland and russia ,Meike calls it a historic novel in miniature form .

Trieste by Dasa Drndic A women waits to meet her son she hasn’t seen for sixty odd years after he was conceived under that nazi regime as part of the lebensborn project for pure Aryans .an inventive novel that use many styles of writing  and one that has been on my wish list since its first mention last year . I have mention this before but its publication was put back out next month .

Faces in the crowd by Valeria Luiselli  a mexican novel set in present day Mexico city with a 21st century Emily Dickinson and 1950’s Philadelphia  and the tale of lost Mexican Poet one of the most exciting voices from latin america and has been compared to Roberto Bolano another great voice from Mexico .due out may .

The family of Pascal Duarte by Camila Jose Cela – Not a debut but one of spain’s most highly regarded writers and a noble winner nice to see Dalkey Archive bring him back .A  murderer looks back on his hard life of poverty hatred and depravity whilst on death row .

The islands by Carlos Gamerro .I reviewed an open secret by him recently now and other stories are publishing his next book Felipe felix is given a mission that makes him remember the Falklands war and find a witness to a crime for a manganate .If it is half as good as open secret it will be excellent

I burn Paris by Bruno Jasienski  a controversial book in its day that lead to its writer being deported from france ,a man poisons Paris water supply and we see how it affects the population a classic of polish lit in english for the first time from twisted spoon  .

fado andrzej stasiuk

 This is the third in my around the world challenge ,from Poland and is the first i ve read by a polish writer .Stasiuk is considered Poland’S foremost writer winning numerous awards in his homeland with his novel nine.The collection of essays  describes as a slavic road trip .The road trip is invoked by the short stories being set all over former eastern europe the stories range from the present-day to the past ,dreams Stasiuk beauty is in the eye for detail he has that straight away lead you to small town cafe ,to slavic writers , the most touching is a story about his own grandparents and ecological issues ,a lament for simple times when things werent  so available so families made do and used everything . Staisuk manages to catch the spirit of post communist times in these essays the searching for new indentys that people have had to do with the changing times ,having spent time in the early nineties working alongside Albanians ,Bosnians and Serbia i felt Stasiuk has really nailed the people of this region .A must read for any one interested in the changing face and map of europe .

In those days ,in the village there were no trash containers.there was also no trash .People brought all kinds of things,but not much was left after they were cosumed.Sugar was sold in paper bags that afterwards could be burned in the stove or reused .Bottles that had contained vinegar,oil and vodka could be sold back at the store for decent money

Stasiuk in the essay tranquilly talking about his grandparents village

The cover is a retro style cover that looks like it might have come from the seventies ,fado is published by the non-profit publisher dalkey archive late last year .

have you read polish fiction ?

what other books do you think examine the changing fac of europe ?

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