The latest in books written by Polonian authors or that concern Polish and Polonian history, language and culture.
Save Send Delete by Danusha V. Goska
Save Send Delete is a debate about God between polar opposites: Mira, a poor, Catholic professor and Rand, an atheist author and celebrity. It’s based on a true story. Mira reveals gut-level emotions and her inner struggles to live fully and honestly – and to laugh – in the face of extraordinary ordeals. She shares experiences so profound, so holy, they force us to confront our beliefs in what is true and possible. Rand hears her; he understands her; he challenges her ideas; he makes her more of herself. The book is in essence a love story. What emerges from these eternal questions is not so much about God, but what faith means to us, and ultimately, what we mean to each other.
Solidarity: The Great Workers Strike of 1980 by Michael M. Szporer
n the summer of 1980, the eyes of the world turned to the Gdansk shipyard in Poland which suddenly became the nexus of a strike wave that paralyzed the entire country. The Gdansk strike was orchestrated by the members of an underground free trade union that came to be known as Solidarnosc [Solidarity]. Despite fears of a violent response from the communist authorities, the strikes spread to more than 750 sites around the country and involved over a million workers, mobilizing its working population. Faced with crippling strikes and with the eyes of the world on them, the communist regime signed landmark accords formally recognizing Solidarity as the first free trade union in a communist country. The union registered nearly ten million members, making it the world’s largest union to date. In a widespread and inspiring demonstration of nonviolent protest, Solidarity managed to bring about real and powerful changes that contributed to the end of the Cold War.
The Idea of Galicia: History and Fantasy in Habsburg Political Culture by Larry Wolff
Galicia was created at the first partition of Poland in 1772 and disappeared in 1918. Yet, in slightly over a century, the idea of Galicia came to have meaning for both the peoples who lived there and the Habsburg government that ruled it. Indeed, its memory continues to exercise a powerful fascination for those who live in its former territories and for the descendants of those who emigrated out of Galicia.
The idea of Galicia was largely produced by the cultures of two cities, Lwów and Kraków. Making use of travelers’ accounts, newspaper reports, and literary works, Wolff engages such figures as Emperor Joseph II, Metternich, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Ivan Franko, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Tadeusz “Boy” Zelenski, Isaac Babel, Martin Buber, and Bruno Schulz. He shows the exceptional importance of provincial space as a site for the evolution of cultural meanings and identities, and analyzes the province as the framework for non-national and multi-national understandings of empire in European history.
Lukasz Wodzynski, writing in the Cosmopolitan Review calls the book: “A rich and engaging tale about Galicia and its four ethnic groups – Poles, Austrian Germans, Ruthenians and Jews – all of whom assigned a different meaning to the “idea” of Galicia.
Freedom Climbers by Bernadette McDonald
Between 1980 and 1989, Polish climbers were giant, worldwide leaders as high-altitude climbers, especially in the Himalayas. This volume documents those charismatic leaders and their iconic climbs in a defining chapter of Himalayan climbing history.
Renowned author Bernadette McDonald weaves a passionate and literary tale of adventure, politics, suffering, death and ultimately inspiration. Freedom Climbers tells the story of a group of extraordinary Polish adventurers who emerged from under the blanket of oppression following the Second World War to become the worlds leading Himalayan climbers. Although they lived in a dreary, war-ravaged landscape, with seemingly no hope of creating a meaningful life, these curious, motivated and skilled mountaineers created their own free-market economy under the very noses of their Communist bosses and climbed their way to liberation.
Patrice Dabrowski reviews Freedom Climbers for the Cosmopolitan Review discussing the gripping and heart-wrenching chronicle of the greatest Himalayan climbers of the 20th century.
Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power by Andrew Nagorski
Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen through the eyes of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close. By tapping a rich vein of personal testimonies, Hitlerland offers a gripping narrative full of surprising twists—and a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.
Some of the Americans in Weimar and then Hitler’s Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind; a few were Nazi apologists. But most slowly began to understand the horror of what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe.
Among the journalists, William Shirer, Edgar Mowrer, and Dorothy Thompson were increasingly alarmed. Consul General George Messersmith stood out among the American diplomats because of his passion and courage.
Tina Brown of NPR Books called Hitlerland a must-read in The Reporter’s Role.
Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen by Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close.
Some of the Americans in Hitler’s Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind, a few were Nazi apologists. But most began slowly to understand what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe.
Among the journalists, William Shirer understood what was happening. Edgar Mowrer, Dorothy Thompson, and Sigrid Schultz, reporters, were alarmed. Consul General George Messersmith distinguished. Truman Smith, the first American official to meet Hitler, was an astute political observer. Historian William Dodd, who FDR tapped as ambassador in Berlin, left disillusioned; his daughter Martha scandalized the embassy with her procession of lovers, Nazis she took up with; she ended as a Soviet spy.
On the scene were George Kennan, the architect of containment; Richard Helms, who rose to the top of the CIA. The writers Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Wolfe, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, and the great athlete Jesse Owens came through Germany; so did a younger generation of journalists—Richard Hottelet, Hans V. Kaltenborn, Howard K. Smith, and Ed Murrow.
These Americans helped their reluctant countrymen begin to understand Nazi Germany as it ruthlessly eliminated political opponents, instilled hatred of Jews and anyone deemed a member of an inferior race, and readied its military and its people for a war for global domination. They helped prepare Americans for the years of struggle ahead.
City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry by Ryan G. Van Cleave.
Dr. John Guzlowski’s “38 Easy Steps to Carlyle’s Everlasting Yeah.” is included in the book along with work by Stuart Dybek.
Chicago has served as touchstone and muse to generations of writers and artists defined bytheir relationship to the city’s history, lore, inhabitants, landmarks, joys and sorrows, pride and shame. The poetic conversations inspired by Chicago have long been a vital part of America’s literary landscape, from Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks to experimental writers and today’s slam poets. The one hundred contributors to this vibrant collection take their materials and their inspirations from the city itself in a way that continues this energetic dialogue.
The cultural, ethnic, and aesthetic diversity in this gathering of poems springs from a variety of viewpoints, styles, and voices as multifaceted and energetic as the city itself.
Stained Glass by Catherine Czerkawska
Stained Glass is a trio of ghost stories: the title story, The Penny Execution and The Sleigh.
In Stained Glass, a young man sees more than he bargained for through his cottage window.
The Penny Execution is about a saleroom acquisition with a terrible secret.
The Sleigh is a quirky and sad story about a strange experience in pre-war Poland.
The first two stories are entirely fictional but the Sleigh is true and was the inspiration behind one of the episodes in Catherine’s new novel, The Amber Heart. This novel, based on her Polish family history, is also available.
Stained Glass is a trio of ghost stories: the title story, The Penny Execution and The Sleigh.
In Stained Glass, a young man who has recently moved to a small village sees more than he bargained for through his cottage window.
The Penny Execution is about a saleroom acquisition with a terrible secret. Be careful what you bid for!
The Sleigh is a quirky little tale about a strange experience in pre-war Poland.
The first two stories are entirely fictional but the Sleigh is based on truth and was the inspiration behind one of the episodes in the author's historical novel, The Amber Heart, which has been described as a 'Polish Gone With the Wind.'
Catherine Czerkawska is an award winning author of historical and contemporary novels, short stories and many plays for the stage and for BBC Radio 4.
The Amber Heart is a big, compelling family saga with a powerful love story at its heart. The setting is the Polish region of Galicia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the middle years of the 19th century. Loosely based on extraordinary episodes from the author's own family history, this epic novel follows the fortunes of an array of characters whose lives are disrupted by the turmoil of the times.
The novel is a passionate, moving and at times explicit tale of a lifelong attraction. Maryanna is a Polish landowner’s pampered daughter, born and brought up in the beautiful 'pancake yellow' house of Lisko, while Piotro is a poor Ukrainian estate worker. The lives of these two people from vastly different backgrounds are, against all the odds, destined to become hopelessly and tragically entwined from the fatal moment of their first meeting.
‘Stefan took a pouch from his jacket and scattered coins as though scattering grain, watching them spread out and dive, hunting among grasses, squabbling volubly, fighting for what they could find, like so many starlings. But one of them didn’t move. He was the tallest and the oldest, a boy of perhaps eleven, his hair black and matted, his face sallow under the grime, his eyes an unexpectedly bright cornflower blue. He stood still, hands hanging by his sides, fists clenched, and he stared up at Maryanna, unsmiling, unmoving. She shifted uneasily. For perhaps the first time in her life, she saw a gaze of pure resentment directed straight at herself. She turned her head into her father’s jacket.
"Daddy, tell the boy not to look at me," she whispered.'
'An excellent holiday read or for any other time you want to lose yourself in a good book' - Indie Bookworm.
Catherine Czerkawska is an award winning writer of historical and contemporary novels, short stories and more than 100 plays for the stage, for television and for BBC Radio 4.
Show Up, Look Good by Mark Wisniewski
Wisniewski shows what really happens when a resourceful, optimistic, upbeat young woman from the Midwest comes to Manhattan to make it.” — Molly Giles, author of ‘Rough Translations’ “With equal parts rue and satire, Mark Wisniewski’s thirty-four-year-old Midwestern heroine, Michelle, flees love gone wrong at home to start over with nerve and independence in Manhattan. Her picaresque misadventures and her encounters with characters odd, pretentious, and menacing prove as haunting as Holden Caulfield’s.” — DeWitt Henry, editor of ‘Ploughshares’
Mark Wisniewski is the author of the novel “Confessions of a Polish Used Car Salesman,” the collection of short stories “All Weekend With the Lights On,” and the book of narrative poems “One of Us One Night.” His fiction has appeared in magazines such as “The Southern Review,” “Antioch Review,” “New England Review,” “Virginia Quarterly Review,” “The Yale Review,” “Boulevard,” “The Sun,” and “The Georgia Review,” and has been anthologized in “Pushcart Prize” and “Best American Short Stories.” His narrative poems have appeared in such venues as “Poetry International,” “Ecotone,” “New York Quarterly,” and “Poetry.”
“Wisniewski: a riotously original voice.” —Jonathan Lethem “'Show Up, Look Good' is a rollicking, laugh-out-loud romp of a novel.”— Ben Fountain, author of 'Brief Encounters with Che Guevara' “Mark Wisniewski’s prose is incisive and crisp, bracing and in the best sense destructive, like a straight shot of excellent gin. Part Carson McCullers, part Truman Capote, part Elmore Leonard, 'Show Up, Look Good' is ultimately a highly original, entertaining, and disturbing read, accurate but precisely off-center. Just when you think you know how it moves, it proves you wrong, and you’re delighted. Wisniewski is that crafty a craftsman, that intelligent a writer.”— T. R. Hummer, author of 'Walt Whitman in Hell' “Forget 'My Sister Eileen.' With wit and insight, Wisniewski shows what really happens when a resourceful, optimistic, upbeat young woman from the Midwest comes to Manhattan to make it.” — Molly Giles, author of 'Rough Translations' "With equal parts rue and satire, Mark Wisniewski’s thirty-four-year-old Midwestern heroine, Michelle, flees love gone wrong at home to start over with nerve and independence in Manhattan. Her picaresque misadventures and her encounters with characters odd, pretentious, and menacing prove as haunting as Holden Caulfield’s.” — DeWitt Henry, editor of 'Ploughshares'
Novelist Leslie Pietrzyk has a new novel, Lady of the House, coming out soon about Polish immigrants in Chicago in 1900. A chapter is available for listening to at The Drum.