(b. 1955) is a prose-writer, journalist and traveler. During the People’s Republic period, Wilk was an active member of the democratic opposition, but at the end of the 80s he gave up politics and European civilization to settle in the remote north of Russia. He lived on the Solovetsky Islands and by the Oniega lake, visiting places one has scant chance of finding in the tourist guidebooks. These experiences paid off in three books of prose: The Journals of a White Sea Wolf, Voloka and A House on the Oniego. Wilk’s books fall into the recently popular genre of travel prose. And yet, in the introduction of sorts to Voloka, the author states: ‘My trail sketches itself out unpredictably’ – and indeed, it can be hard to pigeonhole the author of The Journals of a White Sea Wolf in unambiguous categories. His books combine travel notes and essays with diary entries, he writes of his journeys, of the native peoples of the north and of sacral architecture, of his fascination for Russian writers, scientists and holy people, but also of the ordinary folk he meets on a daily basis. He tries to delve into the mysteries of the ‘Russian soul’ and history, and simultaneously comments on what is happening in Poland and the world, stressing his distance from matters that everyone encounters in a globalized world, developing an ostentatiously marginalized discourse. In describing the harsh and exotic beauty of the northern nature, exploring the history of the faraway lands and commenting on the current events, he invariably writes of himself. For in his writing and his travels, Wilk’s main aim is to find himself, to understand who he is and what he is up against.
Wilk’s prose is absolutely unique in terms of language. The author of Voloka has taken up an extremely risky project, going against the grain of the development of the contemporary Polish language. Professing a distaste for the flood of anglicisms in the Polish language, he stubbornly carries out a plan – as he himself calls it – to ‘expand’ the lexical resources of contemporary Polish with archaisms and old Slavic expressions. To what effect? a superb one. Wilk has managed to develop a unique style of prose that is recognizable after just a few sentences, an expressive personal signature, a private typeface.
- Wilczy notes, słowo/obraz/terytoria, Gdańsk 1998
- Wołoka, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2005
- Dom nad Oniego, Noir sur Blanc, Warszawa 2006
- Tropami rena, Noir sur Blanc, Warszawa 2007
- Lotem gęsi, Noir sur Blanc, Warszawa 2012
- Dom włóczęgi, Noir sur Blanc, Warszawa 2014
- The journals of a White Sea wolf [Wilczy notes], trans. Danusia Stok, London: Harvill, 2003.
- Le journal d'un loup [Wilczy notes], trans. Laurence Dyèvre, Montricher: Noir sur Blanc, 1999
- La maison au bord de l'Oniégo [Dom nad Oniego], trans. Robert Bourgeois, Lausanne: Noir sur Blanc, 2007
- Schwarzes Eis. Mein Russland [Wilczy notes], trans. Martin Pollack, Wiedeń: Zsolnay, 2003
- Das Haus am Onegasee [Dom nad Oniego], trans. Martin Pollack, Wiedeń: Paul Zsolnay Verlag, 2008
- Volcij bloknot [Wilczy notes], Moskwa: NLO, 2006
- Tropami rena, trans. Irina Adelgejm, Sankt Petersburg: Iwan Limbach, 2010
- Dom nad Oniego, trans. Irina Adelgejm, Sankt Petersburg: Iwan Limbach, 2012
- Diario de un lobo [Wilczy notes], trans. Katarzyna Olszewska Sonnenberg, Barcelona: ALBA, 2009