A Polish-Jewish Monologue consists of twelve sketches, in which Grynberg writes about many issues, by turns rapaciously and lyrically, concisely and expansively, on the basis of documents and with reference to his own experiences. Thus he writes about: the exclusion of Jewish culture from Polish culture, in spite of their age-old, patent inseparability; the obliteration of Jewish history from the history of Poland and Ukraine, and also the deadly bargaining conducted by other nations behind the backs and against the interests of the Jews; Judaism as a religion of peace and zest for life; the post-war birth of pride in being a Jew, and also the crucial need to look at history from the viewpoint of the victims, the only perspective that gives credibility to any proclamation of tolerance; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and media attacks on Israel; European blurring of the Judaic heritage, and Christianity as an ethnic system that has failed to deter genocide because it arose on the basis of hatred towards the Jews as Aliens, as a way of reinforcing the European and Christian identity.
Only by renouncing dogged insistence on one’s own innocence and by ceasing to seek blame exclusively on the other side could conditions be created for the Poles and the Jews to reach an understanding. In this regard Grynberg’s book leads to a twofold, but contradictory conclusion: the Polish-Jewish dialogue is impossible, and yet the Polish-Jewish dialogue is crucial. But in order for us to accept this necessity, someone must conduct and maintain a monologue: someone must tend to the vestiges of their murdered relatives, someone must defend the memory of the dead, someone must speak for those who are gone. It would be a misapprehension to assume that this only concerns Polish culture ultimately Grynberg is accusing not only the Poles, but the whole of Europe. Every culture on our continent needs a writer to remind it about the sin of forsaking and indifference, about our betrayal of our Older Brothers, and about the anti-Semitism of decent Europeans, which turned into compliance with genocide.
- Przemysław Czapliński