Wojciech Tochman

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  • photo by Krzysztof Dubiel / Instytut Książki

(born 1969) reporter, non-fiction writer. He has twice been shortlisted for the NIKE Literary Prize and has won the Polish Book Publishers Association Award.
He began his career as a reporter at the youth weekly Na przełaj before leaving school, and soon after he joined the first reporting team at Gazeta Wyborcza. His reports from this period were published in a book, Stairs Don’t Burn (2000, 2006). Before he got his masters degree at Warsaw University he went to Bosnia with a convoy organised by humanitarian aid worker Janina Ochojska. He then went back to the Balkans repeatedly for many years, and the book Like Eating A Stone is the result of those journeys. His next book was Dear Daughter (2005), the moving account of his efforts to find out what had happened to his missing friend, a reporter called Beata Pawlak, who turned out to have been killed in a terrorist attack on the island of Bali.
For several years Tochman was involved in activities aimed at finding missing people. From 1996 to 2002, he ran a programme called “Anyone Who Saw, Anyone Who Knows” on the Telewizja Polska TV channel. In 1999 he founded the ITAKA Centre for the Search for Missing People.

In 2009, with Mariusz Szczygieł and Paweł Goźliński he co-founded the Reportage Institute.

"I don’t write about graves. I tell the stories of people who are alive but standing over stinking holes in the ground. I write about what they carry inside them – that is what matters to me. That is the mystery I want to get to grips with. Often, at the very start of my work, I know I will never be able to solve it, because often it’s not a human mystery, it isn’t a mystery that can be understood by man. That’s exactly why it is a mystery. I like to look into this sort of secret, because I like not understanding, not comprehending, wondering. In reportage the information gathering stage is quite different from the writing stage, and I am excited by the fact that I never really know where a report will take me. A reporter should always be wondering, not knowing, but always seeking answers. Someone who knows everything might be very wise, but he certainly isn’t a good reporter."
Tygodnik Powszechny no. 11/2005

Author's website www.tochman.eu

Bibliography

  • Sprawcy (wywiady), Warszawa: BGW, 1991 (współautorzy: Grzegorz Górny, Witold Pasek).
  • Schodów się nie pali (zbiór reportaży), Kraków: Znak, 2000, 2006.
  • Jakbyś kamień jadła (zbiór reportaży), Sejny: Pogranicze, 2002, 2005; Wołowiec: Czarne 2008.
  • Córeńka (powieść reporterska), Kraków: Znak, 2005.
  • Wściekły pies (zbiór reportaży), Kraków: Znak, 2007.
  • Bóg zapłać (zbiór reportaży z książek Schodów się nie pali i Wściekły pies), Wołowiec: Czarne, 2010.
  • Dzisiaj narysujemy śmierć, Wołowiec: Czarne, 2010.
  • Eli, Eli, Wołowiec: Czarne, 2013.
  • Kontener (with Katarzyna Boni), Warszawa: Agora SA, 2014

in anthologies:

  • Kraj Raj, [Warszawa]: Oficyna Wydawnicza Rytm, [1993] – nie ma tych informacji na książce (teksty: Ciemne, jasne, ciemne; Historie ich świata; czyja wina i czyj chleb?; Dno popielniczki).
  • To nie mój pies, ale moje łóżko. Reportaże roku 1997, Warszawa: Prószyński i S-ka, 1998 (tekst: Mówię ci, tam była enklawa tajemna).
  • Anna z gabinetu bajek, Warszawa: PIW 1999 (tekst: Bracia i siostry).
  • Portrety. Wysokie Obcasy, Warszawa: W.A.B. 2000 (tekst: Siedem razy siedem).
  • 20. 20 lat nowej Polski w reportażach według Mariusza Szczygła, pomysł, układ i komentarze Mariusz Szczygieł, Wołowiec: Czarne 2009 (teksty: Człowiek, który powstał z torów, Wściekły pies).

Translations:

Bosnian:

  • Kao da jedeš kamen [Jakbyś kamień jadła], trans. Slavko Santić, Izdavačka kuća Magistrat, Sarajevo 2004.

Czech:

  • Pánbůh zaplat [Bóg zapłać], trans. Barbora Gregorová, Prague: Dokořán, 2013

Dutch:

  • Dochtertje. Zoektocht naar de vermiste journaliste Beata Pawlak [Córeńka], trans. Ewa van den Bergen-Makala, Uitgeverij De Geus, 2009.

English:

  • Like eating a stone. Surviving the Past in Bosnia [Jakbyś kamień jadła], trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones, London: Portobello Books, 2008; New York: Atlas & Co, 2008.

Finnish:

  • Kuin olisit kiveä syönyt [Jakbyś kamień jadła], trans. Tapani Kärkkäinen, Helsinki: Like, 2005.

French:

  • Mordre dans la pierre [Jakbyś kamień jadła], trans. Margot Carlier, Paris – Lausanne, Les Editions Noir sur Blanc, 2004.
  • La vie est un reportage. Anthologie du reportage littéraire polonais, ed. Margot Carlier, Montricher: Les Editions Noir Sur Blanc 2005 (text: Absentia [Nieobecność], trans. Margot Carlier).

Italian:

  • Come se mangiassi pietre [Jakbyś kamień jadła], trans. Marzena Borejczuk, Rovereto: Keller Editore, 2010
  • Oggi disegneremo la morte [Dzisiaj narysujemy śmierć], trans. Marzena Borejczuk, Rovereto: Keller editore, 2015

Russian:

  • Jakbyś kamień jadła w "Innostrannaja Literatura", Moskwa 2004.

Slovak:

  • Akoby si kameň jedla [Jakbyś kamień jadła], trans. Slavomir Bachura, Krasno nad Kysucou, Absynt, 2015

Spanish:

  • Como si masticaras piedras [Jakbyś kamień jadła], trans. Katarzyna Olszewska Sonnenberg, Madryt: Libros del K.O., 2015.

Swedish:

  • Ouvertyr till livet, ed. and trans. Maciej Zaremba, Stokholm: Brombergs 2003 (texts: Jag väntar under adress: Berlin [Czekam pod adresem: Berlin]; Moder Mejra finner sina barn [Matka Mejra szuka swoich dzieci]; trans. Maciej Zaremba).

Ukrainian:

  • Ти наче камінь їла (“Like Eating A Stone”), trans. Andrij Bodnar, Kiev, Nasz Czas, 2009.