Rafał A. Ziemkiewicz

(born 1964) – novelist, journalist, columnist and political and economic commentator. Ziemkiewicz is one of the most active and influential right-wing columnists, appearing on the radio and on public television, where he hosts a cultural programme called “Ring”. His editorials and commentaries appear in newspapers and magazines including Newsweek Poland, Rzeczpospolita and Gazeta Polska. He made his debut as a writer of fiction with the short stories Lord of the Rats (1987) and mainly writes fantasy, though recently he has also published a novel on a contemporary theme (Foreign Body). He has won the Zajdel Prize several times, a prestigious award for fantasy writers.

Ziemkiewicz is regarded as one of the most expressive fantasy writers. He is highly inventive and versatile (his track record includes “Slavonic fantasy”, in Treasures of the Stolins), but most of his work belongs to the political fiction genre, developing the tradition of sociological sci-fi that was popular in the 1970s and 1980s and that aimed to describe and diagnose modern life through some sort of fantasy genre.

Ziemkiewicz’s main interests appear to be political and economic issues, as in book after book he envisions Poland’s not too distant future, describes the problems facing young Polish democracy, analyses the threats and indicates potential development paths, invariably demonstrating a right-wing point of view (as in The Blasted Fate of the Organ Grinder and Waltz of the Century as well as later sets of short stories). That means both his fantasy writing and his journalism should be regarded as parts of a comprehensive plan to write literature while also expressing his political outlook.

In the words of Mariusz Urbanek: “In each of Ziemkiewicz’s books we can see a struggle between the soul of a writer and the soul of a politician who is tempted to use the novel as a way of presenting his political vision.” And indeed, Ziemkiewicz does not hide the fact that political issues are crucial to him, an exceptional case in modern Polish literature, which is predominantly indifferent to politics. The unquestionable virtue of his writing is that it never sinks into dry editorial, but appeals to the reader through lucid storylines and fresh ideas.

Bibliography

  • Władca szczurów (“Lord of the Rats”), Alfa 1987
  • Skarby stolinów (“Treasures of the Stolins”), KAW, Warsaw 1990; Ancher 1993
  • Zero złudzeń (“Zero Illusions”), Białowieża 1991
  • Wybrańcy Bogów (“God’s Chosen Ones”), Przedświt, Warsaw 1991; SuperNOWA, Warsaw 2000
  • Pieprzony los kataryniarza (“The Blasted Fate of the Organ Grinder”), Nowa, Warsaw 1995
  • Zero zdziwień (“Zero Surprises”), Nepo 1995 (journalism)
  • Czerwone dywany, odmierzony krok (“Red Carpets, A Measured Pace”), Nowa, Warsaw 1996
  • Walc stulecia  (“Waltz of the Century”), Nowa, Warsaw 1998
  • Cała kupa wielkich braci (A Whole Gang of Big Brothers”), Fabryka Słów, Lublin 2002
  • Viagra mać, Fabryka Słów, Lublin 2002 (journalism)
  • Frajerzy (“Suckers”), Fabryka Słów, Lublin 2003 (journalism)
  • Polactwo (“Being Polish”), Fabryka Słów, Lublin 2004 (journalism)
  • Ciało obce (“Foreign Body”), Świat Książki, Warsaw 2005
  • Ognie na skałach (“Fires on the Rocks”), Fabryka Słów, Lublin 2005
  • Coś mocniejszego (“Something Stronger”), Fabryka Słów, Lublin 2006
  • Michnikowszczyzna. Zapis choroby (“Michnikism – The Record of an Illness”), Red Horse, Lublin 2006
  • Żywina, Warszawa: Świat Książki, 2008
  • Zgred, Poznań: Zysk i S-ka, 2011