Stasiuk, Andrzej 1960–
Stasiuk, Andrzej 1960–
Born September 25, 1960, in Warsaw, Poland; married.
Writer, novelist, poet, essayist, literary critic, and publisher. Czarne (publishing house), Czarne, Poland, founder, with wife, 1996—. Military service: Served in Polish communist army; deserted.
Foundation of Culture Prize, 1994; Koscielski Prize, 1995.
Wiersze Milosne I Nie(title means "Verses Amorous and Not"), Biblioteka Czasu Kultury, 1994.
Mury Hebronu(short stories; title means "The Walls of Hebron"), Panístwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (Warsaw, Poland), 1995.
Opowiesci Galicyjskie(stories), Znak (Krakow, Poland), 1995, translation by Margarita Nafpaktitis published as Tales of Galicia, Twisted Spoon Press (Prague, Czech Republic), 2003.
Bialy kruk(novel), Obserwator (Poznan, Poland), 1995, published as White Raven, Serpent's Tail (London, England), 2001.
Przez Rzeke(short stories; title means "Through the River"), Czarne (Czarne, Poland), 1996.
Dukla(short stories), illustrated by Kamil Targosz, Czarne (Czarne, Poland), 1997.
Dwie Setuki(television plays), Czarne (Czarne, Poland), 1998.
Jak Zostalem Pisarzem (Proba Biografii Intelektulanej) (title means "How I Became a Writer [Attempt at an Intelletual Biography]"), Czarne (Czarne, Poland), 1998.
Dziewiec, Czarne (Gladyszow, Poland), 1999, translation by Bill Johnston published as Nine, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.
(With Jurij Andruchowycz)Moja Europa: Dwa Eseje O Europie Zwanej Srodkowa(title means "My Europe: Two Essays on the Placed Called Central Europe"), Czarne (Wolowiec, Poland), 2000.
(With Olga Tokarczuk and Jerzy Pilch)Opowiesci Wigilijne(title means "Christmas Tales"), Czarna Ruta (Walbrzych, Poland), 2000.
Tekturowy Samolot(title means "The Cardboard Airplane"), Czarne (Wolowiec, Poland), 2000.
Zima I Inne Opowiadania(title means "Winter and other Stories"), 2001.
Jadac Do Babadag, Czarne (Wolowiec, Poland), 2004.
Noc: Slowiansko-germanska Tragifarsa Medyczna, Czarne (Wolowiec, Poland), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Gazeta Wyborcza and Tygodnik Powszechny. Works have been translated into several languages in addition to English, including German, Dutch, Finnish, and Italian.
Polish writer Andrzej Stasiuk has written novels, poetry, essays, and literary criticism. Stasiuk has little formal education and was kicked out of high school. He even spent a year and a half in jail as part of a pacifist movement in the early 1980s and a deserter from the Polish communist army. (He drove off in a tank.) When he was released from prison, Stasiuk began writing for Polish newspapers. His book,Mury Hebronu("The Walls of Hebron"), is a collection of twelve short stories based on his time in prison. In a profile of Stasiuk on the Culture.pl Web site, a contributor noted that the short-story collection contains "images from life in a cell and a record of a naked, dehumanized existence in a world ruled by force and cunning." The book went on to became a cult classic in Poland. Since then, Stasiuk has moved to the Carpathian Mountains, where he raises livestock and continues to write. He has also established a reputation as one of the most important Polish writer's of his generation.
Stasiuk's next book Opowiesci Galicyjskie is also a collection of short stories that coalesce into a novel-like narrative. It has been translated by Margarita Nafpaktitis and published as Tales of Galicia. Called "a special and seminal work of the new Eastern European literary sensibility" by a contributor to the Absinthe Literature Review Web site,Tales of Galicia features stories that focus on a fictional Polish village and its poor people as they deal with the town's major employer, State Farms, closing down following the collapse of Communism. The book's primary characters include a host of society's rejects, including tramps, prostitutes, vagabonds, and others who try to adjust to a new way of life that includes new Western influences and growing poverty. The Absinthe Literature Review Web site contributor noted: "Stasiuk's writing style is … subtle and straightforward … but it doesn't take long to understand that the subtlety masks a brilliant underlying complexity that thrums close beneath the surface."
Despite the subtlety of the stories, some reviewers have noted that the book resembles a novel as the stories' interconnectedness evolves. Tales of Galicia begins with what appears to be vignettes of the poor people of the town and nearby farms, but soon the people begin reappearing in later stories. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the characters' "cries of heartache and drunken cheer echo back and forth as the tales cohere into a novel." The narrator of the stories is a man named Kosciejny, who ultimately dies during the course of the book but continues his narration as a ghost. Writing in World Literature Today, Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski noted: "Smooth and elegant translation makes Tales of Galicia not only a valuable addition to the growing number of contemporary Polish novels available in English, but it also offers most enjoyable reading for connoisseurs of good literature." Chicago Review contributor Stephen Boykewich praised Margarita Nafpaktitis for her translation of the Tales of Galicia and also noted: "It is a measure of Stasiuk's achievement that Tales, in spite of its narrative complexity, is far from bleak or bewildering reading."
Stasiuk's 1999 novel Dziewiec, has also been published in English as Nine. Called "grim and harrowing," by a contributor to Publishers Weekly, Nine tells the story of Pawel, who owes a considerable sum of money to loan sharks and begins going around town trying to borrow money after finding his apartment ransacked. As thugs try to track him down, Pawel encounters many of society outcasts, including drug dealers and drug addicts. While capitalism is booming in Poland, Pawel, along with a dealer named Bolek and an addict named Jacek, wander through the streets of Warsaw unable to connect with the world around them or even themselves. "For those who don't work for advertising agencies or in high-tech industries, or haven't been able to try their luck abroad—the losers in the free market's crapshoot—all the old uncertainties of the black economy beckon," wrote Irvine Welsh in the New York Times Book Review. "It is this Warsaw underworld, with its scamming and its subsistence culture, that is so vividly evoked in …Nine. "
Nine has received widespread critical praise in its English translation by Bill Johnston. "Nine stinks like cheap cigarettes and tastes like a busted lip but is tenderly observant," noted Daniel Kraus in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted: "The technique is masterly, and the carefully calibrated atmosphere of dread and threat beautifully sustained." In the New York Times Book Review, Welsh compared Stasiusk's writing to other notable European writers, such as Knut Hamsun and Franz Kafka. Welsh also wrote that the novel "feels like a major work of modern fiction, a portrait of an uprooted and restless generation of Eastern Europeans."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, July-August, 2003, Paul Evans, review of Tales of Galicia, p. 78.
Booklist, April 15, 2007, Daniel Kraus, review of Nine, p. 23.
Chicago Review, spring, 2005, Stephen Boykewich, review of Tales of Galicia, p. 298.
Independent(London, England), July 24, 2007, Boyd Tonkin, review of Nine.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2007, review of Nine, p. 192.
London Review of Books, July 19, 2007, review of Nine, p. 37.
New Statesman, July 2, 2007, Anthony Cummins, "Market Forces," p. 61.
New York Times Book Review, June 10, 2007, Irvine Welsh, "Warsaw Underground," p. 9.
Publishers Weekly, March 12, 2007, review of Nine, p. 35.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 2003, Michael Pinker, review of Tales of Galicia, p. 123.
Slavic and East European Journal, spring, 2004, Kevin Hannan, review of Tales of Galicia, pp. 132-133.
Times Literary Supplement, July 20, 2007, Toby Lichtig, "Rabbit Pate," p. 21.
World Literature Today, May-August, 2004, Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski, review of Tales of Galicia, p. 90.
Absinthe Literature Review,http://absinthe-literary-review.com/ (November 9, 2007), review of Tales of Galicia.
Andrzej Stasiuk Home Page,http://www.stasiuk.pl (November 9, 2007).
Culture.pl,http://www.culture.pl/ (November 9, 2007), profile of author and information on works.