Mariusz Szczygieł's follow-up to Gottland takes the colourful exploration of Czech culture and people deeper, examining the civilisation of the present day and their approach to circumstance - both the good and the bad
Zrób sobie raj / Make Your own Paradise tells the story of 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.
Szczygieł's previous book Gottland also treated the topic of Czech culture, focusing on the years between 1882 and 2003. The follow-up is a book that focuses 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.
In December 2010 Mariusz Szczygieł was presented the Warsaw Literary Premiere Award for the book, 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. The book was also granted the Poznań Publishing Novelty Review: Book of Autumn 2010 Award. It has been translated into Czech, French, Hungarian, Hebrew, Italian and Ukranian.
Source: press release, um.warszawa.pl
- Mariusz Szczygieł
Zrób sobie raj
Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2010
125 x 195, 292, softcover