Mikołaj Łoziński

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  • photo by Elżbieta Lempp

(born 1980) is a novelist and son of the famous documentary film maker Marcel Łoziński. His first publication was a novel called Reisefieber (2006) for which he won the Kościelski Award (2007), followed by a children’s book of animal fables, Fairytales for Ida (2008), and then Book (2011), a novel (for adults) based on true stories about the author’s family. This work won him the 2011 “Polityka Passport” prize.

Reisefieber was acclaimed as one of most interesting and promising first novels by a young author since Dorota Masłowska’s Snow White and Russian Red. In his debut novel Łoziński confirmed that as a writer he is mature beyond his age and a fine craftsman. He also surprised his readers by stepping outside the charmed circle of traditionally Polish subject matter. The book is low-key and on a small scale, with no noisy, controversial topics from the headlines and no stylistic fireworks either. The main character is 38-year-old Daniel, who lives in the United States, a former journalist trying to realise his literary ambitions. Following the death of his mother, with whom he has broken off relations many years earlier, he flies to Paris, the city of his childhood and youth, to put her affairs in order. The journey to France changes into a trip back to his roots. As he discovers his mother’s secrets, he also tries to sort out his own life and to recover its purpose. But Reisefieber is not just the story of a man battling with the onset of a midlife crisis. It is also the tragic story of a woman who has sacrificed herself to the good of her child, who rejects her, and the family traumas that have left their mark on successive generations, the secrets that destroy the lives of people who know nothing about them, and emotional blockage, the inability to communicate, which causes close relatives only to be capable of hurting each other, even though they love one another.

Following the success of Reisefieber Łoziński began to look for a new approach and new inspiration. His next book, Fairytales for Ida, is a set of stories written in the style of animal fables. This is a book for adults as well as children, where the partly funny, partly sad ups and downs of a pond turtle, a dog, a fly, a bacterium and a mynah bird can be read as a universal parable about people’s dreams, nostalgia or loneliness.

In Book, which won the “Polityka Passport”, the characters have no first names; instead they are the father, grandfather, older brother or younger son, which means that they have no specific identities and are removed from the social and political reality which is vividly depicted here, focusing in particular on the post-war situation of the Polish Jews. Yet the anonymity of the main characters goes a long way towards explaining the title, Book, which is also devoid of any personal brand. According to Mikołaj Łoziński, he decided on this title because the first story to occur to a writer is always about his or her own family, and even if it does not (as in this case) end up being his or her first published work, even so it will remain in his or her memory.

Bibliography

  • Reisefieber, Wydawnictwo Znak, Kraków 2006
  • Bajki dla Idy, Wydawnictwo Znak, Kraków 2008
  • Książka, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2011

Translations:

Bulgarian:

  • Kniga, trans. Radostina Pietrowa, Sofia: Bałkani, 2014.

Czech:

  • Reisefieber, trans. Barbora Gregorova, Praga: Dybbuk 2008    
  • Kniha [Książka], trans. Lenka Kuhar, Praga: Daňhelová Havran, 2015  

Hungarian:

  • Regény [Książka], trans. Eles Marta, Budapeszt: Europa Konyvkiado, 2016

Italian:

  • Libro [Książka], trans. Laura Rescio, Rzym: Atmosphere Libri, 2015

Latvian:

  • Reisefieber, trans. Ingmara Balode, Satori 2008
  • Butnes beg [Bajki dla Idy], trans. Ingmara Balode, Ryga: Liels un mazs 2011

Slovenian:

  • Knjiga [Książka], trans. Jana Unuk, Lubljana: Modrijan, 2013

Ukrainian:

  • Reiserieber [Reisefieber], trans. Osman Śliwiński, Lviv: Piramida, 2013