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Jozef Mackiewicz Literary Prize

When: 
11nov'03
This year the Jozef Mackiewicz Literary Prize was awarded to Marek Jan Chodakiewicz for his two-volume book titled EJSZYSZKI - the first historical work about the occurrences in Ejszyszki - a small town in the Vilnius region - where in October of 1944 during an operation of a unit of the Home Army, the local Jews were killed accidentally.





Seven books have been nominated for this year's Jozef Mackiewicz Literary Prize. They include two volumes of poetry, two novels, two books of literary criticism, and one history book. Winners receive a monetary award of seven thousand dollars and a gold medal. The verdict in the competition will be announced on October 9th and the awards ceremony will follow on November 11th.

In nominating finalists, jury members were influenced not so much by the popularity of specific authors as by the real value of their works. In evaluating volumes, the jury took account of the authors' efforts to reveal the truth, even if the climate under which they did so was clearly somewhat less than favorable. This was Jozef Mackiewicz's stance throughout his life and it permeates his work. His words, "Jedynie prawda jest ciekawa" / "Only the truth is interesting," are the competition's motto.

As can be seen from the jury's choices, non-fiction does not have a monopoly on demonstrating truth. The nominated titles include two volumes of poetry: Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz's ZACHÓD SŁOŃCA W MILANÓWKU / SUNSET IN MILANOWEK and Wojciech Wencel's ZIEMIA ŚWIĘTA / THE HOLY LAND. Also among the nominees, a two-volume historical work titled EJSZYSZKI, edited by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz. The title is the first historical work about the occurrences in Ejszyszki - a small town in the Vilnius region - where in October of 1944 a unit of the Home Army murdered the local Jewish population.

Another non-fiction title in the running is Joanna Siedlecka's PAN OD POEZJI / THE POETRY MAN (more...) - a biography of Zbigniew Herbert that has already proved a source of some controversy and much discussion. Maciej Urbanowski's OCZYSZCZENIE / CLEANSING, on the other hand, is a collection of essays about Polish literature of the 20th century.

The finalists also include two novels: SIŁA ODPYCHANIA / REPELLING FORCES by Cezary Michalski, considered the first ever Polish literary effort to portray members of the so-called "Pampers" generation; and Aleksander Jurewicz's PRAWDZIWA BALLADA O MILOŚCI / A REAL BALLAD ABOUT LOVE, a romantic novel about love and war set in the Vilnius region.

THE JOZEF MACKIEWICZ LITERARY PRIZE was established in the year 2000; however, the first winners were not announced until 2002. That year, a medal bearing a portrait of the patron and a quote from his book - "Only the truth is interesting" - as well as the monetary prize was bestowed on Ewa and Wladyslaw Siemaszko for their volume titled LUDOBÓJSTWO DOKONANE PRZEZ NACJONALISTÓW UKRAIŃSKICH NA LUDNOŚCI POLSKIEJ WOŁYNIA 1939-1945 / THE GENOCIDE CARRIED OUT BY UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS ON THE POLISH POPULATION OF THE WOLYN REGION 1939-1945.

The award's patron, Jóozef Mackiewicz (1902-1985), is often referred to as a "fanatic" of historical truth and a chief specialist of so-called "uncomfortable truths." The writer debuted in 1922 in the Vilnius-based daily newspaper "Slowo" / "The Word." Jozef continued to work for this paper, which was edited by his older brother Stanislaw Cat-Mackiewicz, until the outbreak of World War II. In 1939, following the invasion of Poland by the Red Army, Mackiewicz escaped to Lithuania. In 1942, a Special Military Court of the Home Army issued a death sentence against the writer for his purported collaboration with the Germans. This sentence was withdrawn one year later.

In January of 1945, Mackiewicz and his wife left Poland to live in the West. In Rome, Mackiewicz was commissioned by the Office of Studies of the 2nd Corps of the Polish Army to compile a "white book" about the crimes at Katyn. In 1955 the Mackiewicz's settled in Munich. They remained there until their deaths, living very modestly on writing fees and by doing a variety of other jobs.

Source: PAP and www.polska.pl

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