Katarzyna T. Nowak

Born in 1964, a journalist and a writer; she majored in religious studies at the Jagiellonian University, then worked as a journalist for “Gazeta Krakowska” and “Przekrój,” and also worked with other titles, such as “Twój Styl”; as a writer she made her debut in 2005 with the biographical story of Dorota Terakowska, her mother and a best-selling writer, entitled My Mother the Witch; she then published the novel Woman in Rented Rooms. She lives in Krakow.

It is not by accident that Katarzyna T. Nowak gave her first book, My Mother the Witch, the sub-title “a novel,” because this is not a typical biography of the famous and much-admired writer Dorota Terakowska (1938-2004). Of course, there is a great deal of information to be found on the private life and achievements of the author of Cocoon, which Nowak acquired while digging through the household archive, and from numerous conversations with people who knew Terakowska. The author of this “story” tried – on the one hand – to paint her mother’s biography on a very wide canvas, bringing us the unique world of Krakow’s artistic and intellectual elite during the People’s Republic, the lifestyles of people who tried to create their own enclaves of freedom and independent thought as far as they could, in the gloomy reality of the socialist state. On the other hand, Nowak has written a personal thread into this book, presenting her difficult relations with her mother, an extraordinary and ambitious person, but burdened with a difficult personality, and perceiving both her family and the social role of women in her own way. It is the final parts of the book in particular, where the biographical tale starts to verge more toward an autobiographical one, that show Nowak beginning to speak in her own voice as a writer, wanting to write something all her own. And this is just what happened, as proved by the novel Woman in Rented Rooms. Nowak has drawn out a (very autobiographical) story of a forty-year-old woman who chooses to remain single. This does not, of course, mean that she lacks interest in men – on the contrary, all kinds of them, from priests to chefs, are constantly drifting through her life. This journalist who works for women’s magazines is independent and somewhat egotistical. She does not accept the “social expectations” of women, she is not tempted by marriage, and doesn’t want to have children, but she tries to life as best and fully as she can, savoring the bigger and smaller joys, reveling in, fulfilling, and looking for true love. Sometimes she stumbles, sometimes she suffers, but she does not fall into depression. Woman in Rented Rooms is fascinating, at times dazzling dramatic prose.

Bibliography

  • Moja mama czarownica. Opowieść o Dorocie Terakowskiej, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2005.
  • Kobieta w wynajętych pokojach, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2007.
  • Kasika Mowka, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2010.