Mariusz Szczygiel's collection of reportages on Czech culture has received the Warsaw Literary Premiere 2010 Award.
Mariusz Szczygieł was presented the prestigious award, along with an honourary diploma from the Czarne publishing house. The award was presented by the head of the Jury - Adam Pomorski. The ceremonial speech was delivered by Małgorzata Szejnert, with a recitation of exerpts by Krystyna Czubówna.Szczygieł's previous book Gottland also treated the topic of Czech culture, focusing on the years between 1882 and 2003. Zrób sobie raj ("Make Your Own Paradise") is a book mainly on the contemporary Czech population. It is a story about a nation that created culture as a way of fighting depression. If - as claims Michel Houellebecq - our times are best described by the word "gloominess" then Czechs, interpreted by Szczygieł, are a society that knows how to deal with the gloom and do away with it.
Zrób sobie raj is a story on all the things that the author finds fascinating about Czech culture. In the culture of joy and of sadness, where laughter is shown as a mask of a tragic helplessness. Szczygieł is most fascinated by Czechs who don't believe in God. "What is life without God?" is a question sometimes expressed directly, sometimes indirectly, which appears to make up the main theme of the book. The result is a work that merges a personal diary with an essay and reportage. The writer himself has admitted in various commentaries that the book is not objective, that it is basically a book on a country that fascinates him.
The Jury of the Warsaw Literary Premiere: Adam Pomorski (the head), Czesław Apiecionek, Jarosław Klejnocki, Sebastian Lenart, Wanda Monastyrska, Anna Nasiłowska, Janusz Odrowąż-Pieniążek, Jan Rodzeń (secretary), Jacek Wakar.The Award Ceremony is sponsored by: The Capital City of Warsaw, the Polish Culture Foundation, The Public Library of Warsaw, The Main Library of the Masovian Voivodeship, Adam Mickiewicz Museum of Literature, Staromiejski Dom Kultury, The Bookseller Association of the Warsaw District.The book was also granted the Poznań Publishing Novelty Review: Book of Autumn 2010 Award.
Source: press release, um.warszawa.pl