Books

On the Road to Babadag

Andrzej Stasiuk (and others)

Andrzej Stasiuk is a restless and indefatigable traveller. His journeys - by car, train, bus, ferry - take him from his native Poland to small towns and villages with unfamiliar yet evocative names in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Moldova and Ukraine. Here is an unfamiliar Europe, grappling with the remnants of the Communist era and the arrival of capitalism and globalisation.

'Where did Moldova end and Transylvania begin,' he wonders, as he is being driven at breakneck speed in a hundred-year-old Audi - loose wires hanging from the dashboard - by a driver in shorts and bare feet, a cross swinging on his chest. And so his journey continues all the way to Babadag, near the shore of the Black Sea, where he sees his first minaret.

Nine

Andrzej Stasiuk (and others)

Nine is a brilliant novel from one of Europe's finest writers. It tells of a post-communist generation of young Poles among whom the strictures of the old collide daily with the freedom of the new, adrift in moral space and disconnected from family, neighbours, and friends. It is the story of Pawel, a young businessman, in debt to loan sharks, seeking help from former friends, many of whom are now prominent in the city's drug-dealing underground. And of Warsaw, a hostile landscape of apartment blocks, factories, and suburban wastelands, 'a city that at nine-thirty goes to ground, coming to a halt, and giving time to those who have nothing to do.' In prose that is at once colloquial and lyrical, Stasiuk portrays a people in transition and a nation in the re-making. In the process, he has created an existential crime novel as well as a major work of art.

Biography

Born in Warsaw in 1960, Andrzej Stasiuk has risen to become one of the most important and interesting writers at work in Eastern Europe today. Author of over a dozen books and winner of many prizes, he came to writing in an unusual way: in the early 1980s, he deserted the army and spent a year and a half in prison for it. Afterwards he wrote a collection of short stories, The Walls of Hebron, about his experience, which became a huge success. He and his wife, Monika Sznajderman, run a small publishing house in Czarne.