5 Things from Poland You Should Read

by a contributor

from Leonard Kress, author of She Came in Through the Bathroom Window:

  1. Wladysaw Rejmont’s The Peasants (all 4 volumes). By the end of volume 2 (Autumn) I was already booking my flight to Poland in search of these folks. Rejmont was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1924. For a taste of it without the difficulties in locating a translated copy, here’s a long excerpt from the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLFM-gLrE1s&feature=relmfu
  2. Boleslaw Prus’ The Doll. So a crass Warsaw shop owner falls horribly in love with an impoverished aristocratic lady, Izabella Lenska. He begins as a waiter, opens his own gift shop, takes part in the Polish Insurrection of 1863 (exiled to Siberia), returns to open up a larger shop, makes a killing by selling supplies to the Russian army during the Russo-Turkish War…and still, Izabella won’t have him.
  3. Stanyslaw Wyspianski’s The Wedding. A play about a wedding between a Polish intellectual from Krakow and a peasant girl. All sorts of folks attend the wedding—from Poland’s mythic and heroic past along with a free-spirited Jewish girl. An excerpt from the film version by the great Polish director, Andrzej Wajda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLwmmy5lr_U
  4. Tadeusz Borowski’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gents. Horrific and devastating stories about Auschwitz from a writer who survived.
  5. Witold Gombrowicz’s Cosmos. The author put it best: “I gladly call this work ‘a novel about a reality that is creating itself.’ And because a detective novel is precisely this—an attempt at organizing chaos—Cosmos has a little of the form of a detective romance.”