Lidia Amejko

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  • fot. Danae Ribbitsch

b. 1955, playwright, prose-writer, author of radio plays; among Poland’s most highly esteemed contemporary playwrights, her plays include Fargo and The Transformation; Amejko’s plays have been translated into many languages and performed in numerous theaters in Poland and abroad (such as in England, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Croatia); her prose debut was with the novel Stories out Loud (2003); she has also published the novel The Lives of the Project-Housing Saints (2007); twice nominated for the NIKE Award for literature.

Lidia Amejko is only beginning her path as a prose-writer, but she has already shown herself to have a distinctive and fascinating voice. Both her books feature a recognizable, refined style, in which (sometimes quite harsh) colloquial language blends with refined and imaginative metaphors, sacrum with profanum, and reality with the imaginary. Amejko is not just writing the kind of wolds that could only exist on paper, however; nor does she dabble for the sake of dreaming up fictional stories. Her texts question fundamental things: meaning, truth, God, and the experience of death.
The protagonists of Stories out Loud live somewhere on the hinterland between various times and various ontological spaces. They appear to be ordinary (not to say banal) figures, a feeling reinforced by the narrative style, which most closely resembles a rambling spoken tale. Yet the problems they are grappling with are in no way banal; they are trying to take control of the chaos of existence, to find a foothold somewhere.

In The Lives of the Project-Housing Saints the writer draws from an old literary form: hagiographic prose (Amejko often uses stylization and pastiche, and various inter-textual strategies; for example, many years previous the author published one of her own stories in “Odra” monthly as an unknown text by Borges). The author situates the action of the novel in the landscape of a contemporary apartment-block neighborhood, which turns out to be quite remarkable. Or to put it differently – its inhabitants are remarkable, as is what happens to them. It should suffice to mention a few of them: Józef Drukarz - "The Hole-digger of Meaning", Chajdeger - "Benefactor of Homeless Words", Kunerta - "The Gravedigger of Dreams". They find it in no way odd that real saints are living next door, and that God sends disciplinary text messages to their mobile phones. This is a novel in which – like the one before it – Amejko tries to respond to fundamental human questions, weaving her novelistic discourse somewhere at the crossroads between sociology, psychology, religion, and literature in its least hidebound sense.
It may seem as though Amejko is developing her own brand of surrealism or magical realism. However, the author of The Lives of the Project-Housing Saints is merely pursuing "Amejkoism" in its pure form. There seems no other word for it.

Bibliography

  • Głośne historie, Warszawa: Oficyna 21, 2003.
  • Żywoty świętych osiedlowych, Warszawa: W.A.B., 2007.

Translations:

Bulgarian:

  • Teatr x 3 [Dwadrzewko; Farrago; Nondum], transl. Sylwia Borisowa, Sofia: Panorama Plûs, 2007

French:

  • La Vie des saints de la cité [Żywoty świętych osiedlowych], transl. Lydia Waleryszak, Paris: Actes Sud, 2009

German:

  • Die Vorstadtheiligen [Żywoty świętych osiedlowych], transl. Bernhard Hartmann, Kolonia: Dumont Buchverlag 2011