“In an iridescent mixture of horror, history, family and the social, Joanna Bator majestically and convincingly weaves together a multitude of narrative strands, layers of language and reality. The sinister (German) history of the region of Silesia is interwoven with a mysterious family history. Everything turns into (empty) symbols, becomes suspicious, with missing persons lurking everywhere. All appears hollow and decayed, but still present as skeletons, memories, and ruins. Bator has produced a wild, labyrinthine fantasy which continually recombines at thousand clues and narrative threads, playfully holding them in balance. The virtuoso literary derealization with its multiple tonalities has been wonderfully translated into German by Lisa Palmes.”
(The jury on the shortlist nomination 2016)
The widely-traveled journalist, Alicja Tabor, returns to her Silesian hometown of Walbrzych. The city is in uproar - three children have disappeared and a web of lies, slander and persecution is spreading throughout the town. The unsuccessful investigation is fomenting the anger of the residents and inflaming the rumors, suspicions and accusations. Alicija begins her own search for clues, and ends at on a trail of her own and which follows German history. More and more eerie places full of empty symbols and connections, a panorama of the violence of expulsion and child abuse, reveal themselves. With virtuoso shifts in style, these different strands are interwoven with the slogans on the radio and diatribes in Internet forums, accompanied by the poetic fantasies of the sister who took her own life. Iridescent and multilayered, Bator creates a differentiated portrait of Central European history and its contemporary realities.
Joanna Bator, born in Poland in 1968, left her home town at an early age―like her protagonist―and studied cultural science and philosophy in Warsaw where she wrote her doctoral thesis on feminism, postmodernism and psychoanalysis. As a lecturer, she taught at a number of universities and spent several years conducting research in Japan. In addition to scientific publications, she has also published essays in major Polish newspapers and magazines. Her first two novels, Piaskowa Góra (English title: Sandy Mountain) and Chmurdalia (English title: Cloudalia), made Joanna Bator one of the most important new voices in European literature. For Ciemno, prawie noc (German title: Dunkel, fast Nacht; 2012) she was awarded the NIKE, Poland’s most important literature prize.
Recent publications in German translation:
Recent publications in Polish:
Lisa Palmes, born in Greven in 1975, studied Polish philology and German philology and linguistics in Berlin and Warsaw. Since the end of 2008 she has worked as a freelance translator of Polish literature. Since 2013, she has been co-organizer of a series of talks featuring Polish writers and in 2014, she received a grant from the Freundeskreis Literaturübersetzer for the translation of Dunkel, fast Nacht. She is currently working on translations from Katarzyna Puzyńska and Ludwik Hirszfeld.