22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Andrzej Stasiuk

Portrait Andrzej Stasiuk
© Hartwig Klappert

Andrzej Stasiuk was born in 1960 in Warsaw. During the early 1980s he was involved in the Polish pacifist opposition movement »Ruch Wolność i Pokój« and deserted from military service, for which he was sentenced to a year and a half in jail. His experiences in prison were dealt with in his first collection of stories, »Mury Hebronu« (1992; tr. The Walls of Heaven). The début sparked strong reactions in Poland for its drastic but highly literary prose. Stasiuk names, among others, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Andrej Platonow and Zygmunt Haupt among his influences. Stasiuk became known in Germany with »Dukla« (1997), a collection of prose miniatures about a small, sleepy town in southern Poland at the edge of the Carpathians. The narrator’s gaze wanders over the landscapes and inhabitants, and compresses impressions in photographically precise images. Stasiuk repeatedly deals with the theme of Europe and Poland’s relationships with its neighbours: »Being a Pole means to be the last human being east of the Rhine. Because for a Pole, the Germans are something like well-constructed machines, robots; while the Russians are already a bit like animals.« Following his central European stories in »Opowieści galicyjskie« (1995; Engl. »Tales of Galicia«, 2003) and his travel sketches in »Fado« (2006; Engl. 2009), which draw a broad geographical arc from the South Pole to Montenegro, the »literary Gastarbeiter« Stasiuk set his sights on Germany. His travel book »Dojczland« (2007; tr. Germany) describes his impressions of journeys in silver ICE trains between Magdeburg and Mainz, observes everyday German life in train stations, in literary salons, in hotels and elsewhere, touches on Germany’s Nazi history, considers the relationship between Germans and Poles, and enthuses about the GDR as a transit zone between the Germanic and Slavic worlds. He plays humorously with fears, prejudices and clichés: »Everything here is so well organised that even the Kazakhs could keep the parliament running.«

Andrzej Stasiuk writes essays and reviews for big Polish daily papers, and, since the mid-1990s, runs the Czarne publishing house together with Monika Sznajdeman. He was awarded the Samuel-Bogomil-Linde-Prize in 2002, and in 2005 he won the Nike-Prize for the best Polish book of the year. He lives since 1986 in the Low Beskids.