Natasza Goerke

Natasza Goerke was born in Poznan, Poland in 1960. She studied Polish language and literature at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan and oriental studies at Jagiellonian University, Cracow. Since then she has been taken up with Tibetan languages and Eastern Philosophy, many traces of which can be found in her work. She left her native country in the mid eighties, spent some time in the Far East before settling in Hamburg. She published her first stories in journals such as »Odra«, »Czas Kultury« and the underground magazine »BruLion«, that gave its name to a whole generation of writers which also includes Izabela Filipiak and Andrzej Stasiuk. Disillusioned, they turned away not only from the literature that was officially pr omoted but also from the moralizing of the opposition, aligning themselves instead with the magical realism of Latin America and Anglo Saxon post-modern literature. Goerke’s American translator W. Martin compares her tales, usually labeled »surrealist«, with the work of Daniil Kharms, Sławomir Mrożek, Clarice Lispector and Antonio Tabucchi.
After the publication of her two first books, »Fractale« (1994; t: Fractals) and »Ksiega pasztetów« (1994; t: Book of patés), in Poland she became well-known in particular for the short story collection »Pozegnania plazmy” (1999; Eng. »Farewells to Plasma«, 2001), which has been translated both into German and English. The storytelling unfolds in a cross-fade between reality and dream world in which the frequent use of innuendos, links, quotations and narrative self-references establishes an atmosphere of ambiguity that does not ever assuage the search for security and identity also felt in the text. Goerke defines her own position as a writer in the following way: »Emigration is an important experience, if sometimes also a painful one, and thus of inestimable worth. I have roots, but they have died. I have a language, but it is unusable. A mental Tower of Babel: it is good, as long as you don’t capitulate.«
The most recently published story, »47 na odlew« (2002; t: Racy torpidity), describes the existence of a »Polish man without qualities« who is marked by consistent indecision and inconspicuousness. He is ultimately honoured for his successful strategy of passivity with a memorial. Similar to a fable yet without being summarized by a plot or conclusion, the text lingers through a blend of dreams and vigil, triviality and wisdom, tradition and modernity, Eastern and Western influences, pop culture and Far Eastern themes held in abeyance, in which a pleasurably evil glimpse of the simple-mindedness of civilized routine is made explicit. The author lives in Hamburg.

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