Wojciech Albiński

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  • fot. Jakub Ostałowski

(born 1935) writes fiction and is a surveyor by profession. In 1963 he emigrated to France, and later settled in South Africa. His debut came very late, at the age of 68, but was extremely successful. His first collection of short stories, Kalahari, was well received by the critics and won the prestigious Józef Mackiewicz Literary Award. Two more volumes quickly followed: The Kingdom Needs an Executioner and Antelope Seeks Hunter. Albiński consistently writes about South Africa, where he has spent the greater part of his adult life. He sticks to a few favourite themes, of which the one that features most often in his work is the issue of racial prejudice and cultural conflict within the context of the transition that South Africa has undergone. He writes about the abolition of apartheid, and the social, mental, and to a lesser degree political consequences of this historical event. However, this does not mean he has taken on the role of a chronicler or a reporter. The dominant theme is the artist’s and moralist’s point of view. Albiński is fascinated by a world that has fallen off its traditional rails and in a sense ended up standing on its head, and above all what happens to the people trying to work out their new identity. This approach includes a desire to universalise individual figures and choices. From the reality of modern Africa that surrounds him Albiński extracts conflicts and events that are marked by deep-rooted paradox or absurdity.

His first book contains a remarkable set of stories about the life of the big city that is today’s Johannesburg. His next book (The Kingdom Needs an Executioner) features some moving tales, including one about the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by Nelson Mandela. The jewel in the third volume (Antelope Seeks Hunter) is a story that refers to the present-day bloody tribal battles of the kind being fought in Rwanda by the Tutsi and Hutu peoples. Polish themes are relatively rare in Albiński’s work. His writing is sparing in style, extremely disciplined and lucid.

"Wojciech Albiński writes about Africa in an unusual way. His stories teach us about everyday life in South Africa and Botswana from the perspective of a foreign inhabitant. It is this paradoxical blend of being both foreign and assimilated, combining wonder and knowledge that makes his narrative so good at giving us our bearings within the current situation in Africa, despite our ignorance – letting us understand that we do not understand everything."
Przemysław Czapliński

Bibliography

  • Kalahari, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Książkowe Twój Styl, 2003.
  • Królestwo potrzebuje kata, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Książkowe Twój Styl, 2004.
  • Antylopa szuka myśliwego, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Książkowe Twój Styl, 2006.
  • Lidia z Kamerunu, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Książkowe Twój Styl, 2007.
  • Achtung! Banditen!, Warszawa: W.A.B., 2009
  • Soweto - my love, Warszawa: W.A.B., 2012