Joanna Chmielewska

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  • fot. Ela Lempp

(1932–2013) is the pseudonym of one of Poland’s most popular modern novelists, whose books have been published since the mid-1960s. She was a highly prolific author; in the 1990s she published an average of two books per year. In total, she published almost 50 works of fiction. In the 1970s she gained particular popularity for her detective novels. Her books have achieved impressive sales figures in modern Russia (over 8 million copies), where she is considered one of the most important foreign authors. Chmielewska’s work includes at least three distinct genres: detective novels, books for young readers, and humorous ‘handbooks’ such as How to Cope with a Man (1996) and How to Cope with Each Other (2001). Chmielewska deliberately arranged her novels in series which are linked by recurring appearances of characters and by references to events known to readers from previous books. However, this does not mean that she only wrote for her own fans. People have often tried to explain the popularity of Chmielewska’s fiction, but no one has ever found the complete answer. In the communist era, her detective novels had a touch of exoticism due to the fact that she took the reader on tours of such places as a Copenhagen casino, or a Brazilian mafioso’s residence. These books contained everything that is highly appreciated by consumers of literary entertainment: kidnappings, disguises, abrupt changes of scene and surprise endings. The most frequently cited merits of her style include the distance the author maintains from existing genre conventions, wordplay and gentle irony. These books are quite simply good-natured fun and are extremely accessible to the reader, who is not bothered by the fact that the author does not avoid using grotesque scenes and effects. For instance, in her detective novels the victim murdered at the beginning of the story might get up in the final scene and declare that he or she was just pretending to be a corpse. Experts call this type of novel, containing both horror and humour, an ‘ironic thriller’. Understandably, there is great interest in Chmielewska herself; she was an unconventional woman with an extraordinary personality in nearly every respect. As a result of interest in her, Joanna Chmielewska published a five-volume Autobiography (1994) in which she not only revealed many details of her private life, but also expressed numerous views of a political nature, as well as thoughts on her own literary career. As one would expect of such an unusual person, most of these statements are as brilliant as they are controversial. She died on October 7th, 2013.

‘People either love me or can’t stand me. Those who can’t stand me are people with no sense of humour, or who have a particularly conditioned sense of humour. And that’s their right. To me, a sense of humour is crucial – after all, it runs in my family’.
Joanna Chmielewska

Bibliography

Bibliography (from 1990):

  • Ślepe szczęście, Warszawa: Alfa, 1990.
  • Szajka bez końca, Warszawa: Polski Dom Wydawniczy, 1990. 2/3 sukcesu, Warszawa: Alfa, 1991.
  • Zbieg okoliczności, Warszawa: Phantom Press International, 1993.
  • Florencja córka Diabła, Warszawa: Polski Dom Wydawniczy, 1993
  • Drugi wątek, Warszawa: Vers, 1993.
  • Autobiografia. Tom I: Dzieciństwo, Warszawa: Vers, 1994.
  • Autobiografia. Tom II: Pierwsza młodość, Warszawa: Vers, 1994.
  • Autobiografia. Tom III: Droga młodość, Warszawa: Vers, 1994.
  • Autobiografia. Tom IV: Trzecia młodość, Warszawa: Vers, 1994.
  • Autobiografia. Tom V: Wieczna młodość, Warszawa: Vers, 1994.
  • Jeden kierunek ruchu, Warszawa: Polski Dom Wydawniczy, 1994.
  • Pafnucy, Warszawa: Polski Dom Wydawniczy, 1994.
  • Lądowanie w Garwolinie, Warszawa: Vers, 1995.
  • Duża polka, Warszawa: Vers, 1996.
  • Jak wytrzymać ze współczesną kobietą, Warszawa: Wiedza i Życie, 1996.
  • Wielki Diament. Tom I-II, Warszawa: Vers, 1996.
  • Dwie głowy i jedna noga, Warszawa: Vers, 1996.
  • Jak wytrzymać z mężczyzną, Warszawa: Wiedza i Życie, 1996.
  • Krowa niebieska, Warszawa: Vers, 1997.
  • Hazard, Warszawa: Vers, 1997.
  • Harpie, Warszawa: Vers, 1998.
  • Złota mucha, Warszawa: Vers, 1998.
  • Najstarsza prawnuczka, Warszawa: Vers, 1999.
  • Depozyt, Warszawa: Vers, 1999.
  • Książka poniekąd kucharska, Warszawa: Vers, 2000.
  • Przeklęta bariera, Warszawa: Vers, 2000.
  • Jak wytrzymać ze sobą nawzajem, Warszawa: Kobra, 2001.
  • Trudny trup, Warszawa: Kobra, 2001.
  • (Nie)boszczyk mąż, Warszawa: Kobra, 2002.
  • Pech, Warszawa: Kobra, 2002.
  • Babski motyw, Kobra Media, 2003.
  • Las Pafnucego, Kobra Media, 2003.
  • Bułgarski błoczek, Kobra Media, 2003.
  • Kocie worki, Kobra media, 2004.
  • Mnie zabić, Kobra media, 2005.
  • Przeciwko babom!, Warszawa: Kobra Media, 2005.
  • Zapalniczka w antologii Trupy Polskie, Kraków: Wydawnictwo EMG, 2005.
  • Krętka blada, Warszawa: Kobra Media, 2006.
  • Autobiografia, tom 6 - Stare próchno, Warszawa: Kobra Media, 2006.
  • Zapalniczka (Rozwinięcie opowiadania Zapalniczka, ze zbioru opowiadań Trupy Polskie z 2005 roku), Warszawa: Kobra Media, 2007.
  • Rzeź bezkręgowców, Warszawa: Kobra Media, 2007.
  • Autobiografia. Okropności. Tom 7, Warszawa: Kobra Media, 2008.
  • Porwanie, Warszawa: Klin, 2009

Translations:

Bulgarian:

  • Wszystko czerwone, trans. Sylwia Borisowa, Sofia: Colibri, 2005
  • Myżo, myrtyw si (Nieboszczyk mąż), trans. Sylwia Borisowa, Sofia: Colibri, 2006

Czech:

  • All Začarovaný dom, Bratislava: Mladé Letá, 1982.
  • Poplach s odkazem [Upiorny legat], trans. Iva Daňková, Praha: Vyšehrad, 1985

Estonian:

  • Lesio, trans. Ruth Karemäe, Tallinn: Olion, 2005.

German:

  • Mord ist Trumpf, München : Blanvalet, 2007.

Lithuanian:

  • Krokodilas iš Šarlotes šalies [Krokodyl z kraju Karoliny], trans. N. Salnikiene, Vilnius: Rosma, 1996
  • Itariami mes visi [Wszyscy jestesmy podejrzani], trans. Violeta Šoblinskaite, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1998.
  • Romanu romanas [Romans wszechczasów], trans. Valdemaras Kvietkauskas, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1998.
  • Šalutiniai keliai [Boczne drogi], trans. Valdemaras Kvietkauskas, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1998.
  • Negyvelio palikimas [Upiorny legat], trans. Violeta Šoblinskaite, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1998.
  • Vien tik raudona [Wszystko czerwone], trans. Violeta Šoblinskaite, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1998.
  • Šitiek gauju! [Wielki gang], trans. Violeta Šoblinskaite, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1999.
  • Proteviu šuliniai [Studnie przodków], trans. Violeta Šoblinskaite, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1999.
  • Užkeiktas namas [Nawiedzony dom], trans. Valdemaras Kvietkauskas, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1999
  • Ypatingi nuopelnai [Wielkie zasługi], trans. Nomeda Berkuviene, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1999
  • Dvilype byla [Upiorny legat], trans. Nomeda Berkuviene, Kaunas: Eridanas, 1999
  • Didysis deimantas [Wielki diament], trans. Violeta Šoblinskaite, Kaunas: Eridanas, 2000
  • Mirtis hipodrome [Wyścigi], trans. jonas Bulovas, Kaunas: Eridanas, 2001

Spanish:

  • Mala suerte, trans. Joanna Orzechowska, Barcelona: Ediciones B, 2004.