Funerals

Tomasz Białkowski
  • Portret
    Olsztyn 2006
    125 x 195
    285 pages
    ISBN: 83-60477-00-0

Nowadays Polish novelists rarely write about the last few decades, and are reluctant to return to the traumas of the past; writers of the younger generation hardly ever take up this theme. Tomasz Białkowski, who publishes with the specialised Wydawnictwo Portret, is an exception. In Funerals he tells the story of a young man living in the present day who is a bit naïve and a bit of an idealist, but has to come to terms with some family myths bound up with the history of Poland. His grandfather, whom the main character has always regarded as an uncompromising oppositionist, madly courageous in his fight against the communist regime, turns out to be a weak person, a thief, habitual liar and roisterer who was more involved in a string of affairs than the fate of his fatherland. The more he finds out about his family history, the more firmly he believes it to be an impenetrable tissue of lies, truths and half-truths. Funerals is a novel about manipulating history and inventing deceitful myths for private as well as public use; it is about lies that become the one and only defence against the world, and human weaknesses that sow wickedness in successive generations. And finally it is about the difficulty of assimilating the traumas of the past, which makes it hard for the hero to feel at home in the present. Because in fact Białkowski’s hero is fighting for an ordinary, normal present that is not overshadowed by events from the past. This is a bitter, painfully honest novel; Polish writers rarely have this much courage.

- Robert Ostaszewski

Tomasz Białkowski (born 1969) writes fiction and published his first book, a set of short stories, in 2002. He has also written a stage play, The Tree, and a novella entitled Longueurs. He lives in Olsztyn.