Dawid Bieńkowski

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  • fot. Bernard Osser

(born 1963) writes fiction, is a psychologist by training, and works as a psychotherapist. Bieńkowski’s first novel, entitled Is, won the Andrzej Kijowski Prize and the Kościelski Award. The action takes place in 1980-82, and the main characters are five Warsaw schoolboys whose adolescence coincides with the turbulent era when Solidarity was formed, followed by social unrest and martial law. The main characters are young anti-communists and ardent patriots involved in opposition activity. The novel was regarded as one of the most interesting and highly politically significant statements of its generation. His second novel, Nothing, also prompted a lot of debate. Written in a realistic style, it has several themes, and is about the birth of the new social and economic system in Poland in the 1990s. Nothing came out at a time when more and more was being said about the costs and victims of the early stages of Polish capitalism. Bieńkowski’s cast of characters represent some typical Polish fates in the years of great change. In the foreground we see a young intellectual who leaves his teaching job and becomes the manager of a French fast food chain. Other people working for the same corporation include a cynical boor and a married couple from the provinces. In the background there are some artists and characters connected with the media and show business. All the characters are struggling with an inner void – this is the “nothing” of the title. Obsessed with the world of consumerism and big money, they gradually discover that their aspirations are a mistake. The nobler ones have abandoned their dreams and ideals, nor the brutal, spoiled ones find fulfilment either – by the end of it, they all feel burned out and cheated.

"The diagnoses offered by this book are not consoling. If you take a close look at the main characters, it turns out none of them has managed to counteract either the cruel conditions dictated by the powerful company or all-pervading commercialisation… The author is trying to tell us that these days we are all highly susceptible to consumerism and commerce as they lure us with more and more new gadgets, and we all readily succumb, though we put up an excellent front." - Artur Madaliński on Nothing

Bibliography

  • Jest, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Agawa, 2001.
  • Nic, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo W.A.B., 2005.
  • Biało-czerwony, Warszawa: W.A.B, 2007.

Translations:

Lithuanian:

  • Nieko (Nic), trans. Kazys Uscila, Wilno: Mintis, 2007