Appearing on American bookshelves, Józef Hen's book brings to life a lost world, a once vibrant part of Jewish Warsaw that was razed to the ground during the war
Appearing on bookshelves in America, Nowolipie Street brings to life a lost world, a once vibrant part of Jewish Warsaw that was razed to the ground during the war
Hen's memoir is about growing up in a middle-class Jewish family in the Warsaw's Muranów district during the 1920s and '30s up through the first few months of the German occupation. Hen lived on Nowolipie Street as a child and young adult and this street sets the backdrop and source material for his narration. Hen revives in realistic detail the daily life of the Jewish metropolis while delving into the inner life of a boy who would grow up to become a writer.
One of the early chapters of Hen's memoir is devoted to his collaboration with Mały Przegląd (The Little Review), a children's newspaper run by Janusz Korczak. Read more about The Little Review...
See video with Józef Hen talking about his encounter with Janusz Korczak...
The reconstruction of this world gone requires a tremendous power of imagination and memory. But only a deep understanding and integrity of the author can lend the work its unquestionable sense of truth and compassion which is the trademark of Hen's writing.
As remembered and retold by Hen with loving detail, the world of his youth regains its full shape and vivid colour. However this world is soon to be shattered when Germany invades Poland. Hen goes on to show how he and his family lived through the horror of the incessant bombardment of Warsaw and the chaos of the next few months. Slowly but inexorably, the noose begins to tighten around the Jewish population. Eventually, the sixteen year old author makes the agonizing decision to leave his parents and flee his country.
Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin writes, "There can never now again be a memoir of the lost Jewish world of interwar Warsaw to compare to this generously detailed and beautifully crafted study of childhood by Józef Hen. This is to be savored and treasured and preserved."
Emily Adams writes in ForeWord Clarion Reviews that "Hen, the author of several other books and short stories and a Jewish survivor of World War II, has written a striking memoir. He brings together his artistic prowess and personal experience in this beautiful volume. Nowolipie Street is valuable as a historical account, and as a rich example of the genre."
Józef Hen, a novelist and screewriter was born in 1923 as Józef Henryk Cukier. He spent most of the war time in Russia and returned to Poland in 1945. After the war he wrote novels and screenplays for such directors as Kazimierz Kutz and Janusz Morgenstern. After 1968 he was a persona non grata in the People's Poland but he never emigrated. In the 70s and 80's he returned to writing historical novels set usually in the multi-cultural landscape of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and combining themes of crime, romance and adventure. He made his name as the author of fictionalized biographies of historical figures, like Michel Montaigne, Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, and Stanisław August Poniatowski.
Nowolipie Street is the first book by Józef Hen to be translated into English.
The book has been published by DL Books, and was translated by Krystyna Boron.
Source: Instytut Książki
May 7th, 2012