Wojciech Jagielski

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  • photo by Krzysztof Dubiel / Instytut Książki

(born 1960) journalist and feature writer. Originally a journalist for the Polish Press Agency, since 1991 he has worked for the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. He is a leading expert on African and Central Asian affairs, Transcaucasia and the Caucasus. He has reported on major political events worldwide at the turn of the century.

His first publication was A Good Place to Die (1994), about Transcaucasia and the Caucasus, followed by Praying for Rain (2002), about Afghanistan, which was nominated for the NIKE prize in 2003, and then Towers of Stone (2004), on Chechnya.
Jagielski is interested in chronic conflicts where the contradictory motives of several different factions are tangled into a Gordian knot, and so he writes about the small Caucasian nations that have almost constantly been at war with each other since the collapse of the USSR, or about Afghanistan. However, he does not focus on political analysis, data and dry facts. He is mainly concerned with the people who are sucked into a vortex of hatred and revenge, both the leaders of countries or nations and the ordinary people who are usually those most strongly affected by the turmoil of war. Through their stories he tries to come close to the political and social reality of the places he describes, without leaving out any details, thanks to which the reader gains good insight into real life in Chechnya or Afghanistan.

In his books Jagielski offers multiple points of view and presents the opinions of people on different sides of the conflict. He does not try to force his information into an order or confine it to simple journalistic formulae, because he is fully aware that he is writing about problems that are to all intents and purposes insoluble. He is a seasoned observer who makes sure his readers learn exactly what life is like in places that we only know from the television news, which usually shows nothing but the “atrocities of war”.

According to the giant of world reportage, Ryszard Kapuściński: “Jagielski’s writing is a superb continuation, a perfect development and enrichment of everything that’s best in Polish and European reportage”.

Bibliography

  • Modlitwa o deszcz, W.A.B., Warszawa 2002.
  • Wieże z kamienia, W.A.B., Warszawa 2004.
  • Dobre miejsce do umierania, 1994; W.A.B., Warszawa 2005.
  • Nocni wędrowcy, W.A.B., Warszawa 2009.
  • Wypalanie traw, Znak, Kraków 2012.
  • Trębacz z Tembisy, Znak, Kraków 2013.
  • Wszystkie wojny Lary, Znak, Kraków 2015.

Translations:

Dutch:

  • Bidden om regen [Modlitwa o deszcz], trans. Eva Bergen-Makala, De Geus 2007
  • Torens van steen [Wieże z kamienia], trans. Esselien 't Hart, De Geus 2008

English:

  • Towers of Stone [Wieże z kamienia], trans. Soren Gauger, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009
  • The Night Wanderers [Nocni wędrowcy], trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012
  • Burning the grass [Palenie traw], trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2015.

Italian:

  • Le torri di pietra [Wieże z kamienia], trans. Lorenzo Costantino and Laura Quercioli Mincer, Mondadori Editori 2005
  • Vagabondi notturni [Nocni wędrowcy], trans. Marzena Borejczuk, Rome: Nottetempo, 2014

Slovak:   

  • Nočni pútnici [Nocni wędrowcy], trans. Juraj Koudela, Krasno nad Kysucou: Absynt, 2016

Spanish:

  • Una oración por la lluvia [Modlitwa o deszcz], trans. Francisco Javier Villaverde González, Random House Mondadori/Debate 2007
  • Un buen lugar para morir [Dobre miejsce do umierania], trans. Francisco Javier Villaverde González, Random House Mondadori/Debate 2009
  • Torres de piedra [Wieże z kamienia], trans. Francisco Javier Villaverde González, Random House Mondadori/Debate 2011