The shadows of Adam Kłakocki

A dreamy book in which fans of Haruki Murakami should be interested. The book I read for the following challenges: A to Z 2014 World Books Challenge (February), 2014 Full House Reading Challenge (less than 200 pages) and What’s in a Name Reading Challenge 2014. I would put it as my second European book (Belarus) in the In 12 Books Around the World, if it was… less dreamy and more in the reality.

A book that has no English translation… and contrary to what you think it’s not originally in Polish. No, it was written by Belarusian author, in Belarusian (which doesn’t need to be “a matter of course” when you pay attention to the clashes in Belarus). The culture of this  country that is a neighbour to Poland is mostly unknown even to Polish. Me included. That’s why I decided to try reading a -strange looking at the cover description – book by acclaimed Belarusian writer, Ihar Babkou.

Adam Klakocki and his shadows – Ihar Babkou

Adam Kłakocki i jego cienie okładkaOriginal Title: Адам Клакоцкі і ягоныя цені
Polish Title: Adam Kłakocki i jego cienie
Author: Ihar Babkou

Original Publication Year: 2001
Publication Year in Poland: 2008

Publisher: Oficyna 21
Pages: 144
ISBN: 978-83-917228-9-3

About the author

Ihar Babkou (Ігар Бабкоў) was born in Homel (South-Eastern Belarus) in 1964. He’s a poet, a philosopher, a translator, editor. Also a lecturer. In the 1980s, he participated in the first self-published publications, as well as in the first independent meetings in Minsk. He took part in relaunching the weekly Nasha Niva, creating a new non-soviet Belarusian culture. In 1995, he founded the publishing house “Euroforum”.

About the book

The main character of the book (according to the title) is Adam Kłakocki, a strange nobleman Jan Adam Maria Kłakocki born in 1793, a dream researcher, among other things. Or his shadows, lurking in the Kłakocki’s Archive, where another young man works during quite the modern times.

The book is divided… in 20 short… things, including poems. Each having their own title.

The author is playing with form and punctuation. Sometimes he puts the incomplete sentences in his story.


Hyde Park (novel)

ciemne drzewa w parku
niczego nie widzą:
nawet własnego cienia*


dark trees in park
they see nothing:
even their own shadows

*Yes, that’s the full “novel”

My opinion

I was having doubts when I was selecting this book in my local library. It sounded… strange. And it was strange, indeed. But “strange” in the positive way.

The reality and fantasy and dreams are tightly mixed. One scene is more real, another is more unreal, etc. When I started reading the book, I wasn’t sure if Adam Kłakocki was really just a character made up by the author.

The author refers to the history of region and well-known people, but also mentions the prominent people from other parts of the world (eg. Van Gogh, Zhuanghzi, Li Bo).

It’s a good book, interesting enough, but if you want to learn more about Belarus, you’d need to focus and filter it after reading. Maybe not the best introduction to Belarus, tho surrealism might be a good lenses to see something and remaining sane. Sometimes.

I think the books should be interesting for fans of Haruki Murakami’s novels. Tho you could hardly call this one a novel. The more I read it, the more I liked it. Maybe I needed time to get used to the writer’s style.

My opinion: 8/10. This is for the “content” only. Unfortunately, the book I got is poorly edited (with mistakes) and several (sic!) pages missing! For the edition, 1/10 and I’d (and will be) wary of other books from this publisher (Oficyna 21).


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