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Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia
Synopses & Reviews
Born in 1966, MARIUSZ SZCZYGIEŁ has been a reporter for Gazeta Wyborcza since 1990. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his writing on Poland and Czechoslovakia, including the Europe Book Prize and the Prix l'Amphi for Gottland. From 1995-2001, he hosted his own talk show ("Na każdy temat", "On Any Topic"). Together with Wojciech Tochman and Paweł Goźliński, he runs the Polish Reportage Institute in Warsaw.
Translator ANTONIA LLOYD-JONES is the pre-eminent translator of Polish reportage: the authors she has translated included Wojciech Tochman, Wojciech Jagielski, Jacek Hugo-Bader, and Ryszard Kapuscinski. She received the Found in Translation Award from the Polish Cultural Institute in 2008 for her translation of Pawell Huelle's novel The Last Supper.
"An already lauded collection of episodic reportage from the pen of a prolific Polish journalist (European Book Prize 2009), this grimly themed but spryly sequenced investigation into the secret-plagued reality of 20th-century Czechoslovakia falls gently short of expectations in an intriguing yet overall monotonous translation. The chronologically progressive, 'mostly true' stories depict with varying scales of focus the lives and times of an eclectic cast of Czech individuals, some of them well known, like Tomas Bata, the tenacious turn-of-the-century shoe merchant who transformed his father's languishing cobbler trade into a diversified socio-industrial empire, others with scant name recognition even in their native land, like Otakar Sveck, a depressive Prague sculptor-manque whose commission to design the largest-ever Stalin monument on the banks of the Vltava River proved his own psychic toppling. The leitmotif of these tales is dispossession: the Czech people struggling to remain individuals in a state where individualism is literally a crime. Faced with the hand-tailored sadism and iron whimsy of occupying forces, these men and women must make a choice: resist or submit. With notable and deeply affecting exceptions it tends to be a lugubrious combination of the two. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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