Cezary Michalski

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  • fot. Paweł Hoffman

(born 1963) writes fiction, essays and journalism, and is currently deputy editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Dziennik-Polska-Europa-Świat.

Cezary Michalski made his literary debut quite late, surprising those who knew the four books he published before his first novel, The Force of Repulsion. His love of polemic was first made public in political and ideological discourse. The uncompromising views he expressed in the press in the late 1990s stirred some heated debate, and as the author of some fiery, cutting articles he was acclaimed as one of Poland’s most interesting intellectuals on the right wing of the political scene.

The main characters in The Force of Repulsion are émigrés who left Poland in the mid-1980s. Marek works as a cultural attaché in France, Wojtek is an eternal student and spiritual anarchist, and Marta, the lover they have in common, is the wife of an American sociologist. At the plot level there is a fairly trite love-triangle story, but at a deeper level the book is about ideas and disenchantment with the ideological and political processes that emerged in Poland after 1989. Michalski’s next novel, The Lake of Radicals, is a score-settling book in which he tears into his own life story and the origins of his own social milieu. The main character is a forty-year-old who as a reward for his activities on behalf of one of the liberal parties is sent on a scholarship to Switzerland, where he gets mixed up in a criminal case. As he sits in prison waiting for the court’s verdict, he reminisces. He comes across as a defeated, compromised person. He also realises that his Swiss contemporaries as well as his friends in Poland are ideologically bankrupt. In both books the action of the novel is just a pretext for Michalski to offer the reader some ideas and opinions, and to confront attitudes and political agendas; the “adventures” described in his novels are purely intellectual in nature.

In 2006 Michalski surprised the reading public once again with a collection of short stories, Worse Worlds, a work of satirical fantasy with elements of political fiction. As in classic fantasy, six of the pieces start from an exaggeration of some of the disturbing phenomena that have emerged in recent years, including the terror of political correctness, the ever increasing role of the media and the rise in ways of keeping an eye on the ordinary citizen.

Bibliography

  • Ezoteryczne źródła nazizmu [pod pseud. Marek Tabor], Kraków: Biblioteka „bruLionu”, 1993.
  • Powrót człowieka bez właściwości, Warszawa: Casablanca Studio (Biblioteka „Debaty”), 1997.
  • Ćwiczenia z bezstronności, Kraków: Arcana, 1999.
  • Ministerstwo Prawdy, Kraków: Arcana, 2000.
  • Siła odpychania, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo W.A.B., 2002.
  • Jezioro Radykałów, Warszawa: Prószyński i S-ka, 2004.
  • Gorsze światy, Lublin: Fabryka Słów, 2006.