Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Grzegorzewska is on the list of thirteen books nominated this year for the prestigious International Man Booker Prize.
Swallowing Mercury is a subtle tale of growing up in the Polish countryside in the 1980s. Grzegorzewska takes readers on a trip through a Poland that no longer exists, through a country in which communism is dying, and John Paul II and Lech Wałęsa are national heroes. The story of Wiola, who grows up in the Polish countryside, is constructed from scraps of memories, tiny flashes of what once was, and how an adult remembers a child’s world. The book was released in Poland by Czarne Publishers in 2014 and made it to the final round of the Nike Literary Award.
The list of books nominated for the International Man Booker Prize this year was announced during the International Book Fair in London, where Poland is the guest of honor. The thirteen nominees also include Judas by Amos Oz, A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman, and The Traitor's Niche by Ismail Kadare.
Grzegorzewska’s book was translated by Eliza Marciniak, and published by Portobello Books, which specializes in promoting Polish literature (to date they have published Wojciech Tochman, Jacek Hugo-Bader, and Michał Witkowski among others).
Wioletta Grzegorzewska (b. 1974) has lived outside of Poland since 2006. She has published volumes of poetry including Controlled Imagination (1998), Parantele (2003), Orinoko (2008), Other Rotations (2010), Smena's Memory (2011), and a prose volume called Notes from the Island (2012). In July Wioletta Grzegorzewska’s new novel, Rooms, will be released through W.A.B. publishers. In Great Britain she is known as Wioletta Greg.
From 1969 to 2014 the Booker Prize was given to authors from the Commonwealth, Ireland, and Zimbabwe. Recent editions have been open to all English-language writers – last year the award went to an American, Paul Beatty. The Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005 and was initially awarded every two years. In 2016 The Man Booker International Prize was joined with a prize for a foreign novel awarded by The Independent. It is presently given annually to authors and translators. The short list of nominees (six titles) will be released on 20 April, and the winner will be announced on 14 June.