NIKE 2005 has been awarded to Andrzej Stasiuk for his book "Going to Babadag" / "Jadac do Babadag"... Plus a list of 20 nominees with short descriptions and a list of seven final books. NIKE is a prize for the best book of the year published in Polish. It has been presented since 1997, always for a book published in the previous year...
This year the NIKE LITERARY AWARD has gone to Andrzej Stasiuk for his book Jadac do Babadag / Going to Babadag published by Wydawnictwo Czarne. In the run-up to the announcement of this year's winner, readers of the "Gazeta Wyborcza" daily awarded, as the best book, the Podroze z Herodotem
["Travels with Herodotus"] by Ryszard Kapuscinski, publisher: SIW Znak.
The jury of the NIKE 2005 consisted of: Henryk Bereza - the president of the jury, Lidia Burska, Izabella Cywinska
, Andrzej Franaszek, Andrzej Makowiecki, Father Waclaw Oszajca, Tadeusz Sobolewski, Piotr Wierzbicki and Marek Zaleski.
Twenty books nominated for the NIKE 2005 LITERARY AWARD have been announced on May 19, 2005, on the first day of the 50th WARSAW INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR
. The jury - presided by Henryk Bereza - chose seven final books.A list of seven final books...
Here is a list of 20 nominees:
- Anna Bikont My z Jedwabnego ["We of Jedwabne"], publisher: Proszynski i S-ka
"It is hard to walk out of the world created in this book, though while in it we encounter terrifying facts and must endure bitterness and anger and sadness," wrote Halina Bortnowska.
Anna Bikont's book is a record of four years of her work as a reporter. The journalist found witnesses of the crime committed at Jedwabne, went about verifying their memories, searching for documents no one has accessed in decades, recording statements made by historians and the debates that played out in newspapers and magazines. We of Jedwabne is not only about that mass murder but also, and perhaps above all, about the false memory of that tragedy we have today, about how and why we wish to suppress that memory, whatever the cost. "The book is nightmarish, because the reality it describes is a nightmare - the most gruesome of the gruesome," wrote Msgr. Adam Boniecki about We of Jedwabne in "Tygodnik Powszechny" ("Popular Weekly").
- Janusz Glowacki Z glowy ["Off the top of (my) Head"], publisher: Swiat Ksiazki
An autobiographical story in several dozen anecdotes about how one becomes a writer, how one finds success in America and how, from beyond the Atlantic, one peers out in search of Bednarska Street in Warsaw.
Glowacki is best known as the author of renowned plays like Hunting Cockroaches / Polowanie na karaluchy and Antigone in New York / Antygona w Nowym Jorku. His memoirs, which he has surely embellished with a bit of fiction, take on Glowacki's well-known tone - that of a nonchalant columnist who is somewhat rebellious but also a bit nostalgic. So we have something here about New York and preparations for a Broadway premiere, and something about the town of Obory near Warsaw. Antoni Slonimski appears alongside Arthur Miller, while Polish actors Jan Himilsbach and Zdzislaw Maklakiewicz follow Miller. "Before I started getting invitations to bridge nights, I slammed around the fringes with a group of people who were talented, but who dressed raggedly, cussed a lot and drank even more," writes Janusz Glowacki.
- Henryk Grynberg Uchodzcy ["Refugees"]), publisher: Swiat Ksiazki
This is Henryk Grynberg's fourth nomination, the previous three having been received for Drohobycz, Drohobycz (1998), Memorbuch (2001) and Monolog polsko-zydowski ["A Polish-Jewish Monologue"](2004).
This book at first seems a carefree ballad about the author's student years in Lodz and his first years in America. Yet through this tale come memories of the tragic icons of a certain generation, among them Marek Hlasko, Krzysztof Komeda and Wojciech Frykowski, memories which conceal something serious - an important question about the fate of Polish Jews, about a sprained, sick memory from which there is no escape, about the fate of émigrés. There is an autobiographical background present throughout Refugees. "Polanski made universal films, Komeda wrote universal music, (...) I pursued my Polish-Jewish story, (...) which followed me around everywhere like a dog," recalls Grynberg.
- Julia Hartwig Bez pozegnania ["No farewells"], publisher: Sic!
Hartwig has thrice appeared among the nominees and finalists for the NIKE Award for her: Zobaczone ("Seen", 2000), Nie ma odpowiedzi ("There is no answer", 2002) and Blyski ("Flashes", 2003). Bez pozegnania consists of the poet's memories of past events and of people who were important to her.
So there are dead poets like Apollinaire, Brodski, Staff, Galczynski and Iwaszkiewicz: "Like every bird that prepares to fly / thus they." There is also the poet's brother, Edward Hartwig ("He was an old fashioned photographer / A profession no better or worse than others").
Julia Hartwig had the following to say about her newest volume: "These are not farewells, but a summoning of people who have passed on. A farewell is an act that occurs very rarely. (...) Those who appear in this small collection of poems are mostly poets who have departed. Poets leave behind poems, yet their poems are not farewells but living pieces of their existence."
- Ryszard Kapuscinski Podroze z Herodotem ["Travels with Herodotus"], publisher: SIW Znak
This newest book by the exceptional writer and reporter explores the world through the work of Herodotus, another great, though ancient, reporter and traveler.
"Did someone encourage him to undertake these investigations? Commission him to complete them? Did Herodotus offer up his services to some magnate? (...) Who needed them? For what?" we read in Travels with Herodotus. These reflections on the destinies of cultures and civilizations in various epochs and on various continents, about barriers that remain insurmountable in spite of knowledge and preparation, mix well with the author's autobiographical anecdotes. Of his difficult start in journalism as a reporter for "Sztandar Mlodych" ("The Banner of Youth") and the Polish Press Agency, Kapuscinski writes, "We all knew very little about everything, but I knew nothing about the countries I was assigned" - a beautiful and courageous confession from this observer and thinker.
- Hanna Krall Wyjatkowo dluga linia ["An exceptionally long line"], publisher: Wydawnictwo a5
The story of the inhabitants of a certain townhouse in Lublin's central square, many of whom perished at Sobibor and Majdanek.
A book about Franciszka Arsztajn and Jozef Czechowicz. "This building is a mental projection composed of dozens of complete or broken, interrupted biographies. The book is none too large and might even be called inconspicuous. But each sentence that adds to the building's interior simultaneously builds a part of a world that exists almost solely in the form of memories," wrote Tadeusz Nyczek in "Przekroj" weekly. Hanna Krall had the following to say about working on the book: "One of the two living former inhabitants of this building told me the story of the young doctor Jan Arnsztajn. His wife passed away, and later his lover shot herself at his grave. This sounded improbable, like a street ballad. But the doctor's grandson confirmed it was all true."
- Ryszard Krynicki Kamien, szron ["Stone, frost"], publisher: a5
This is Ryszard Krynicki's first volume of poems in nineteen years. Krynicki is considered one of Poland's most important "New Wave" poets. "He is one the most reticent contemporary poets" - Krynicki as described by Janusz Drzewucki, who measures his words like practically no one else. "The words are not the only important thing in his poems; also the silences that fall after every stop."
The volume as a whole is made up of a number of extensive series, including "Kamien z Nowego Swiatu" / "A Stone from Nowy Swiat," "Szron" / "Frost," "Trzy wiersze tylko dla ciebie" / "Three Poems Just For You," "Nowe xenie i (elegie)" / "New Xenias and (Elegies)"," and "Cztery tlumaczenia" / "Four Translations" (of poems by Paul Celan and Hans Magnus Enzensberger). Marian Stala wrote the following about the volume in "Tygodnik Powszechny" ("Popular Weekly"): "I have read 'Stone, Frost' a mere handful of times. And already, after these initial readings, this is for me one of the essential books of contemporary poetry."
- Ewa Kuryluk Goldi, publisher: Twoj Styl
This may be the most personal book art historian, painter and essayist Ewa Kuryluk has ever written. It is about Goldi, the gerbil that was the writer's best friend in childhood.
From beneath these warm family stories emerge the cold Polish realities of the 1950s and 60s. We hear incompletely expressed memories of wartime, things about the new post-war order and about turmoil at the offices of "Odrodzenie" / "Rebirth," the periodical headed by the author's father. We progress to the Polish Embassy in Vienna, then to the offices of the State Scientific Publishers and the so-called "encyclopedists" scandal that proves a harbinger of the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968. All this, however, we see through the eyes of a maturing girl whose parents keep things from her. She guesses much, but cannot hope to understand everything. That is why she writes of the anti-Semitic upheavals of March 1968 as a "storm that broke out on Women's Day," and why one of the chief consequences of this storm from the child's perspective is that "Tadzio and Basia K. broke off ties with our family."
- Jerzy Lukosz Lenora, publisher: Proszynski i S-ka
Lukosz is a playwright, prose writer and essayist. His published books include TOMASZ MANN / THOMAS MANN, GRABARZ KROLOW / THE GRAVEDIGGER OF KINGS and DWA OGNIE / TWO FIRES. This volume consists of two short stories, "Przygotowania do slubu" / "Preparations for a Wedding" and "Powrot Telemacha" / "Telemach's Return."
Although the events portrayed are real and can be summarized, Lukosz's stories chiefly emphasize a sleepy aura that is never fully explained. Adam, the protagonist of "Preparations for a Wedding," runs to the tailor to have his suit made the day before the ceremony. "I saw myself as a small boy (...) in the square in front of the church (...) between the nothingness from which we emerged and the nothingness to which we will turn." The characters in Lenora try to escape their childhood, their early family memories and boyhood complexes: "I remembered my mother and father. I was pinned by their gazes, all their gazes, as many as there had been over the years, all at once."
- Michal Pawel Markowski Czarny nurt. Gombrowicz, swiat, literatura ["The black current. Gombrowicz, the world, literature"], publisher: Wydawnictwo Literackie
In this book, Markowski, an exceptional literary theorist, translator and essayist, author of among others ANATOMIA CIEKAWOSCI /ANATOMY OF CURIOSITY and PRAGNIENIE I BALWOCHWALSTWO / DESIRE AND IDOLATRY, writes about the works of Witold Gombrowicz.
"After reading Markowski's book, it is hard not to wonder why all the Gombrowiczological aces have never devoted enough attention to the dark side of the writer's works, a dark side that is described so suggestively and with such talent in 'The Black Current,' " asks Jerzy Jarzebski in discussing this book. As Markowski writes, that dark side relates to "murky, convoluted, puzzling Gombrowicz, (...) not bright, eloquent, clear Gombrowicz; it is about the Gombrowicz who was a structuralist (...) and consciously juggled various literary conventions as he manipulated people."
- Krystyna Milobedzka Po krzyku ["It's all over"], publisher: Biuro Literackie
"You have to break through to the word, somehow win it in battle," says Milobedzka. "I think very highly of little texts, crumbs, traces of something seen, some little padlock, some light, a complete trifle set down in a few lines. This may be an issue of having a similar understanding of what it means to note down," she adds.
This is probably why her poetry is spare and modest, rudimentary, as if it were aware that words have a weight, that they must be found, and that the world - try as we might - remains indescribable: "I can't find the words / I can't even fall silent," "... and, my girl, there are always fewer words / whereas you cannot find more of the living," "since morning I have struggled with the accuracy of words" - all these passages we read in It's All Over. "Non-conversations," "untellability," and "uninhabiting" are perhaps the most important words in Krystyna Milobedzka's poetry.
- Feliks Netz Dysharmonia caelestis ["Heavenly disharmony"], publisher: Slask
A solid piece of Silesian history that covers the region's tragic episodes, for instance, Martial Law and the tragedy at the "Wujek" coalmine. Yet all this information is conveyed in a somewhat unreal, fairytale aura: "We got to Kosciuszko Park and by then I knew that something was wrong because the park was all dug up by tank tracks, the trees were all toppled and the greens destroyed, everything just devastated."
"Each chapter, though an entirety in itself, remains in a tangible relationship with others, turning this collection of texts almost into a novel. Ultimately - although differently than I expected - the city of Katowice proves a meaningful background of this story times eight. If now, after reading it, I was asked what this book is about, I would have several answers," writes Henryk Waniek.
- Jerzy Pilch Miasto utrapienia ["City of woes"], publisher: Swiat Ksiazki
Pilch, winner of the NIKE 2001 Award (for the novel Pod Mocnym Aniolem / The mighty angel), has this time written a book about Poland's capital city.
Instead of a main character who is a middle aged man from the town of Wisla and the city of Krakow, we have a twenty-odd-year-old student in Warsaw: "I was born in 1976 - two years after Poland's greatest football triumph in history and two years before the election of a Polish pope," says the hero. The boy possesses a special skill - he can hear PIN codes when they are punched into automatic tellers. This proves to be the axis of a thrilling plot that includes his suspected involvement in a bank robbery. "Today there are two worlds - that of the small town, in which everything is real but nothing changes, and that of the big city, in which everything changes but nothing is real. To live in the first is funny, to live in the second is terrifying," writes Przemyslaw Czaplinski of Pilch's novel.
- Tadeusz Rozewicz Wyjscie ["Exit"], publisher: Wydawnictwo Dolnoslaskie
"Once again Rozewicz has published a volume that exudes his recognizable tone and simultaneously contains a great load of new things," wrote Malgorzata Baranowska of EXIT.
This is the author's seventh nomination for the NIKE Award. In the year 2000 the volume Matka odchodzi / Mother Departs gained the author top honors in the competition. As is often the case with Rozewicz, the poems in Exit reference literary and philosophical tradition, but are also a comment on the contemporary world: "words have been exhausted / chewed up like chewing gum / (...) weakened by politicians / they can be used to whiten teeth / (...) now weakened / wrapped in newspaper / they are still poisonous and stink." Rozewicz also returns at times to his life story: "in the year 1945/ in October / I came out from underground / (...) With Przybos I sought / a place on earth / with Staff I began / a reconstruction from smoke / from the chimney / with professor Kotarbinski/ I voted 3x yes."
- Tomasz Rozycki Dwanascie stacji. Poemat ["Twelve stations - A poem"], publisher: SIW Znak
Rozycki previously published several volumes of poetry, including CHATA UMAITA and SWIAT I ANTYSWIAT / THE WORLD AND THE ANTI-WORLD, and now offers TWELVE STATIONS - an extensive poem with an invocation, scenes of making pierogis and picking mushrooms, a book that was distinguished with the 2004 Koscielski Foundation Prize.
TWELVE STATIONS is a family history and the history of a region - the Opolszczyzna (Opole): "The city of One Hundred Banks and One Bookstore! / A city with a Limestone Face located in the Valley / of Seven Cement Plants, somewhere on the border between Foolish / and Rural Silesia, which is sometimes called Podolian Silesia" - thus goes Rozycki's invocation. "To a certain point, life itself wrote the entire story. The clans I describe in the poem really exist, the places actually exist on the map. (...). If the book's foolishness, parodies, satires, its entire unserious layer can be called an homage, then it is an homage to my family," said Rozycki in an interview for "Gazeta Wyborcza" daily.
- Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz Slowacki. Encyklopedia ["Slowacki - An Encyclopedia"], publisher: Sic!
Rymkiewicz is a poet and literary historian who won the Nike Prize two years ago for the poetry volume ZACHOD SLONCA W MILANOWKU / SUNSET IN MILANOWEK. Rymkiewicz's previous literary achievements include LESMIAN. ENCYKLOPEDIA / LESMIAN - AN ENCYCLOPEDIA, and now he offers us another encyclopedia, this one centering on Juliusz Slowacki.
Though it consists of entries arranged in alphabetical order, Rymkiewicz's encyclopedia reads like an essay. This book is full of knowledge about Slowacki, but it is also, and perhaps above all, a collection of Rymkiewicz's personal views about Juliusz Slowacki's oeuvre. "This never-ending story can be read in fragments or in order, for pleasure or for edification; you can start reading at the beginning or at the end, but also in the middle - so just as you want and like to read," says Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz.
- Andrzej Stasiuk Jadac do Babadag ["Going to Babadag"], publisher: Czarne
This book praises the provinces - that inferior, unneeded and forgotten world; and it praises the freedom that those excluded from attention enjoy.
Going to Babadag is about the author's travels through Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Moldova, the countries of the former Yugoslavia and the Hungarian provinces. From this travel journal emerges a treatise about half a continent, its cultures and inhabitants. The protagonists are landscapes that have not changed in years and people who, like the landscapes, have not changed in generations. "I should write the story of Gypsy eternity, because I sense that in some way it is more enduring and wise than our states and cities and our entire world, which trembles lest it be eradicated," writes Stasiuk. He proceeds in Going to Babadag to record the beginning of this story of unneeded people and unneeded places.
- Dariusz Suska Cala w piachu ["Covered all in sand"], publisher: Czarne
"Death very much becomes Suska's poetry. And this is poetry that moves you to real tears," writes Jaroslaw Klejnocki of COVERED ALL IN SAND.
Nonexistence, questions about whether anything exists beyond time return again and again in Dariusz Suska's poems. This was the case in his previous volume, Wszyscy nasi drodzy zakopani / All Our Dear Interred Ones, which gained the author a NIKE Award nomination in 2001, and this is the case with Covered All in Sand. The author goes on walks with his daughter, plays in sandboxes with childhood props, and hears a child's questions asked in a naïve language. Yet this language can be used to formulate series questions, like the ones in the poem "Jestes za malutka, zeby sie tak hustac" / "You're Too Young To Be Swinging That High": "If you're not around, then what will you do, daddy?" Or those in "Mandarynka" / "Mandarin Orange": "Oh goodness, it was a tire-squashed mandarin / that you cried over, when the one eighty-nine bus / took off from the stop."
- Pawel Spiewak Ksiega nad ksiegami. Midrasze ["The Book of Books - Midrashes"], publisher: Znak
"I love to read and peruse midrashes. Without them, the straight text of the Torah reminds me of a tree in autumn. It acquires color, density, depth when midrashes begin to overgrow it. Midrashes say as much about the very Word of God, as they do about its commentators," writes Pawel Spiewak.
In this volume, the author comments on great biblical themes, turns to other classic commentators, but also returns to his private, family memory and to the book Ksiazka nad ksiazkami / The Book of Books by his mother Anna Kamienska. "I constantly go back to it, and I can recommend this book to everyone, child or adult (...) as a book that allows us to move into and inhabit the Books and experience them deeply," he recalls. "Pawel Spiewak's Midrashes introduce Jewish reflection, and thus also Jewish culture, in the 'Polish here and now' as something living," writes Ireneusz Krzeminski of this book.
- Adam Wiedemann Kalipso ["Calypso"], publisher: Proszynski i S-ka
The new volume from the author of BAJKI ZWIERZECE / ANIMAL FABLES and the short story collection SEK PIES BREW / CINQ PIECE BREVES.
Sometimes Wiedemann's poems seem to purposely flee from poetry. Humorous and ornery, they incorporate jokes and social gossip: "I used to live at 536 with Szewc / whose writings they published in the blue bruLion, / and now we hang around here with the post-modernist Stokfiszewski and the avant-gardist Kuczok." There is also the occasional newspaper headline or slogans that are turned every which way by a string of associations from another order. They are no longer then slogans from newspapers and play out instead in a different context: "Farmers continue to think / about 'their own interests,' the specter of a 'community' terrifies them."
"In 'Calypso,' " writes Piotr Sliwinski of this volume, "two tendencies struggle against each other: one that seeks to discipline works, grant them shape, most willingly the form of a sonnet; the other to let the language run free, to layer associations, to monologue away in the mind."
NIKE is a prize for the best book of the year published in Polish. It has been presented since 1997, always for a book published in the previous year. Award-winning books to date include Wieslaw Mysliwski's
WIDNOKRAG / The Horizon, Czeslaw Milosz's
PIESEK PRZYDROZNY / ROADSIDE DOG, Stanislaw Baranczak's
CHIRURGICZNA PRECYZJA. ELEGIE I PIOSENKI Z LAT 1995-1997 / Surgical Precision. Elegies and Songs from 1995-1997, Tadeusz Rozewicz's MATKA ODCHODZI / Mother departs
, Jerzy Pilch's POD MOCNYM ANIOLEM / BY THE POWERFUL ANGEL
and Joanna Olczak-Ronikier's W OGRODZIE PAMIECI / IN THE GARDEN OF MEMORY
, Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz's
Zachod slonca w Milanowku / The Sunset in Milanowek (more...)
, Wojciech Kuczok
Books are nominated for the award in May, and the seven finalists are chosen in September. The winner is announced on the same day the judges make their decision, in October. The author of the winning book receives a cash prize and the Nike statuette, the work of sculptor Gustaw Zemla.
See also: 2004 edition...
, 2003 edition...
, 2002 edition...
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