My Polish literature challenge in 2013

As you probably already know (if you follow me for a longer time), I’ve joined Polish writers challenge called Polacy nie gęsi (second edition). I’ve been bit lazy with writing all the reviews for the books separately, so I’m gonna do a summary of the books of Polish authors I’ve read in November (when I joined) and December 2013.

I’ll group the books by a genre, not by chronological order. Some of the information might be similar to I’ve read in November 2013 post but even those who’ve read that post, will find this one interesting – as I’ll translate things that can’t be found in English Wikipedia. Continue reading to find out more about Polish literature I’ve been reading. Tho unfortunately most of it isn’t available in English. 😉

Varsaviana books

Books about Warsaw, my dear hometown. They are in Polish only, afaik.

  • Legendy Warszawskie by Artur Oppman coverLegendy warszawskie by Artur Oppman (Or-Ot). Legendy Warszawskie (Warsaw’s legends) is a short children illustrated book with selected legends from Warsaw and Oppman’s poems (one is serving as introduction). I can’t possibly review the legend’s plot. I grew up hearing those legends. Some of the legends are very famous (Bazyliszek, Złota Kaczka) and some are lesser known (like the poem-style legend of Chrystus Cudowny u Fary). This is a great introduction to Warsaw’s tales for children. The book (ISBN: 9788372974235) is well published. Big letters, nice and colourful illustrations. Its only minus is that’s too short, but maybe it’s good for children actually. Those who want to read one of the Warsaw’s legends can do that actually! Bazyliszek is translated into English and German and even an animated film based on its story is available. I’m not sure about the other legends tho. I’ve read it in November 2013.
  • Warszawa nieznana (Unknown Warsaw) by Jerzy Kasprzycki. A great book that I’d recommend to others (if they know Polish) to read about Warsaw’s life from 18th to 20th century (post-Second World War). Short and interesting chapters revolving around various topics, from economy to fighting. If you’re interested I recommend reading my review of Warszawa nieznana from November 2013.
  • W_dawnych_cukierniach_i_kawiarniach_warszawskichherbaczynski_wojciechW dawnych cukierniach i kawiarniach warszawskich (In the past sweet and coffee shops of Warsaw) by Wojciech Herbaczyński. A long and detailed book about the history of the coffee shops and sweet shops (and theirs owners, pastry chefs, customers) told like a tale. Wojciech Herbaczyński was a pastry chef and an owner of a sweet shop before the Second World War, so you can be sure to get a lot of insider’s information and anecdotes. That is, if you can read Polish. 😉 It’s detailed, sometimes maybe too detailed, but also it leaves out a lot of information. For example everybody in his tale was so damn helpful and righteous it makes you think it can’t be real. The book I’ve read is third edition (ISBN 8385584927, published by Veda) and was published “century later” (in 2005, the first edition is from 1980s) and the editors forgot to correct sometimes “this century” which was referring to 20th century. It was confusing and irritating sometimes. Other than that, you might need a map of Warsaw to keep up with the various locations of shops mentioned in the book.
  • Warszawa znana i nieznana by Karolina Beylin coverWarszawa znana i nieznana (Warsaw known and unknown) by Karolina Beylin. This children-oriented book telling the stories of Warsaw is actually a bit confusing for me. It was written in 70s, few years before my birth, and it’s often explaining obvious things like it would be something unknown. I can hardly imagine how a child grown up in (the past) Warsaw wouldn’t know such things. It’s a good book, which still can be interesting to children (or adults) wanting to know more about Warsaw’s past. I think it would be especially useful to people who didn’t grow up in Warsaw, since it’s often explaining Warsaw terms (words) in an easy manner. A great addition to it are the ink-like illustrations by Antoni Uniechowski. I’ve read it in December 2013.

Fiction books

In December the only fiction books by Polish writer I’ve read were books by Stanisław Lem. He’s a world famous Polish science-fiction writer (among other things). His books were translated in over 40 languages, so you might read it not only in English.

  • Solaris by Stanisław Lem. This story of scientists trying to study and communicate with alien life form (a big living ocean) on Solaris planet was made into film several times already. I greatly recommend to read this story for all those who want to see alien being an alien, not speaking English or any other Earthian language. It’s also a great study of human psychic. Not an easy read but worth it.
  • Kongres futurologiczny. Maska by Stanisław Lem. This book (in Polish version) has 2 different stories. First is The Futurological Congress (an inspiration for The Congress film by Ari Forman) a very funny and scary (predictions) story about the future of the world and its troubles. Everything starts at the congress, where various people debate about the tragedies befalling Earth and how to stop them. Or they should be. Bit difficult to read because of lots of neologisms. The second one is The Mask a hunter chasing a prey story. Everything starts during a ball hosted by a king. A fateful meeting between a lady (with no memories) and a man, that is not liked by the king. Despite the chase it’s a very philosophical story, making the readers think on various matters, like human’s will. Both of the stories are very interesting and I recommend reading them.

The challenge’s goal is to read 12 books by Polish authors in 12 months (from October 2013 to September 2014). I’ve read already 6 out of 12 books in 2013, and 7th this week so I’ll have no problems with clearing the challenge.

I’m not gonna stop on 12 books only, so you’ll read more about Polish literature. Stay tuned and I hope you’ll find a book by Polish writer for yourself. If you have any questions about Polish books or writers, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll try to answer you as best as I can.


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