Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki

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  • © Gunnar

(born 1967) is a novelist and poet who has lived outside Poland for many years (formerly in Iceland, and now in Austria). His first publication was a set of short stories called Bielawa West Station (2003). He has also published: two collections of stories, Róża’s House. Krysuvik (2006), and The Lunatic (2007, a reworked version of his first book); the novella Lullaby for a Hanged Man (2007); the novels One Two Three (2007), First Things (2009) and Bornholm, Bornholm (2011); and two volumes of poetry written in Icelandic.

Klimko-Dobrzaniecki is a seasoned “storyteller” and raconteur, capable of changing seemingly ordinary events into unusual stories that rivet the reader’s attention. He is also perhaps the most “Czech” of the Polish novelists. In his bitter-sweet prose he invariably softens the tragedy by treating it with irony, and tames grief by means of laughter, faultlessly capturing the satirical side of human fortunes. The autobiographical thread is crucial to all Klimko-Dobrzaniecki’s writing, and is most plainly exhibited in First Things, which he defined as an “autobiographical novel”. Except that in this case we are dealing with a perverse approach to autobiography, a peculiar game with it. He blatantly mixes fact and fantasy, as proved for example by the start of First Things, where he gives us three different versions of the events surrounding his own birth – which does not change the fact that in all Klimko-Dobrzaniecki’s books he starts from the autobiographical specifics of his childhood and youth spent in Lower Silesia (Bielawa West Station, The Lunatic, One Two Three) and from his years as an émigré (Róża’s House, Lullaby for a Hanged Man), developing them into fictional stories. The cement binding Klimko-Dobrzaniecki’s texts together is a particular type of central character who invariably interests the author. Lullaby for a Hanged Man is teeming with eccentrics, lunatics, misfits and restless spirits, people who have been uprooted and sometimes derailed, who usually refuse, or are unable to find their own unambiguously defined place in life. They are stuck outside the clearly marked boundaries of sex, family or social conditions in a borderland zone where uncertainty prevails, engendering fears and frustrations, where it is hard to find clear rules and signposts indicating a distinct path in life. Klimko-Dobrzaniecki shows their tragic as well as their comical ups and downs. In each of these characters he manages to capture something different, a distinctive individual feature, which means that his writing is peopled by original types, among the central as well as the secondary ones. At the same time he does not abuse any literary devices. His prose style might not be entirely ascetic, but it is undoubtedly transparent. Moreover, as he himself says, he is not interested in “linguistic sliding down the banisters”. He deliberately chooses this sort of approach to his writing in order to focus on what matters to him the most: telling striking stories honed to perfection.

Bibliography

  • Stacja Bielawa Zachodnia, Nowa Ruda: Wydawnictwo Mamiko, 2003.
  • Dom Róży. Krysuvik, Wołowiec: Wydawnictwo Czarne, 2006.
  • Wariat, Olsztyn: Wydawnictwo Portret, 2007.
  • Raz. Dwa. Trzy, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Ha!art, 2007.
  • Kołysanka dla wisielca, Wołowiec: Wydawnictwo Czarne, 2007.
  • Rzeczy pierwsze, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak,  2009.
  • Bornholm, Bornholm, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 2011. 
  • Grecy umierają w domu, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 2013.
  • Pornogarmażerka, Warszawa: W.A.B., 2013.
  • Preparator, Warszawa: Od deski do deski, 2015.
  • Samotność, Warszawa: Noir sur Blanc, 2015.
  • Zostawić Islandię, Warszawa: Noir sur Blanc, 2016.

Translations:

Bulgarian:

  • Domt na roza. Krisuvik [Dom Róży/Krisuvik], trans. Ewgenia Manołowa, Sofja: Fondacja za blgarska literatura, 2013

Croatian:

  • Bornholm, Bornholm, trans. Emilio Nuić, Zagrzeb: Hena com, 2016

English:

  • Lullaby for a Hanged Man [Kołysanka dla wisielca], trans. Julia and Peter Sherwood, Philadelphia: Calypso Editions, 2016

French:

  • La maison de Róża, trans. Veroniqe Patte, Paris: Belfond 2009.

Serbian:

  • Ruzin dom, trans. Vesna Milutinović-Durić, Beograd: Izdatielstow Geopoetika 2010.