Joanna Chmielewska Passes Away
Joanna Chmielewska, photo: Elżbieta Lempp
Her main line of study was architecture. In Russia she was considered the most widely read foreign writer; her works also appeared in Czech, Slovakian and Swedish. She died on October 7th in Warsaw.
Joanna Chmielewska primarily wrote mystery novels, but this description doesn’t do justice to the style of her colourful prose. In Russia, for example, they determined that her work leaned more towards that of ironic "whodunits.” Her compositions of criminal mischief were important and indelible, but served as only a framework upon which she stretched a tight layer of humour.
The author never shied away from grotesque effects. Her narrators shared distinct features with their creator, often named Joanna and worked as architects or writers. The comedy in Chmielewska’s novels is derived from unusual situations that involve the absent-minded Joanna and her groups of friends, in particular her friend Alice who lives in Denmark.
Her most popoluar titles include Całe zdanie nieboszczyka (Dead Man's Tale) and Wszystko czerwone (All in Red) and Lesio.
Joanna Chmielewska is the pen name of Irena Kühn (née Becker). She was born on April 2, 1932 in Warsaw, and graduated from the Department of Architecture from Warsaw’s University of Technology in 1954. She worked as an architect with the Office of Energy Projects and the Office of Capital Projects for a period that included the office's onstruction of the Warsaw Peasant House. From 1970 onward she focused her attention to her literary works.
One of the most popular Polish contemporary writers, her 42 volumes of prose garnered mostly an adult audience, but also appealed to young readers. Each of her new titles wandered slowly up the Polish best-sellers list to remain at the top for a significant period. The total circulation of works by Joanna Chmielewska has exceeded five million copies within Poland alone. In Russia, where she is perceived as the most widely read foreign author, the number jumps to eight million.
Joanna Chmielewska’s literary works have been adapted for film and television and have run in several editions.
Her most recent novel was Porwanie (Abduction), 2009, Byczki w pomidorach (Bulls in the Tomatoes), 2010, and Gwałt (Rape), 2011.
Sources: own materials, PAP, author: JHP, translation: SMG 8/10/2013