13 February 2013 A new book by Jacek Dehnel
‘When I was six, I did not want to be a fireman or a soldier, but if anyone had asked me if I wanted to become a literary critic, I would have certainly protested, too,’ writes Jacek Dehnel in the preface of his latest book. Młodszy księgowy. O książkach, czytaniu i pisaniu [Junior Accountant. On Books, Reading and Writing] (W.A.B.) is not a critical-literary volume, even though it contains several reviews. It is a fascinating tale about literature, and a collection of comments, digressions and anecdotes. As you may remember, Jacek Dehnel is a regular guest of the Conrad Festival.
Dehnel is interested in almost everything – customs of poets on a business trip, scribblers, pearls found in one-hundred-year-old books of friendship, or correspondence of great and minor writers. He writes mainly about others, but does not forget about himself – the reader can accompany him on his meetings and expeditions and watch him at his desk. He displays wit, extensive knowledge, the ease of combining apparently different issues, distance to himself and an excellent sense of humour.
Jacek Dehnel – poet, translator, writer and painter. A graduate of Polish literature studies at the University of Warsaw within the framework of the Individual Inter-Faculty Studies in the Humanities. Author of the acclaimed novel Lala [Doll] (2006), which focuses on intimate stories recounted by Grandmother Lala that are a reflection of real-life events. It is a tale encompassing the tradition of a family saga, a biography, a coming-of-age story and an extended interview. It is a story of an unusual woman who managed, safely and quite optimistically, to survive the cruellest century in the history of Europe. In the Polityka weekly, Aleksander Kaczorowski wrote the following words after the book was released: ‘In an impressive way, Dehnel becomes one of the most interesting Polish writers.’ In the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, Dariusz Nowacki added: ’No one has ever said goodbye to the first stage of their life in a more beautiful way. Picture-perfect – both the novel and the farewell! The novel has been translated into German, Hebrew, Italian and Slovak, while Spanish, Hungarian, Turkish, Croatian and Lithuanian versions are underway. Dehnel has also published a collection of short stories entitled Rynek w Smyrnie [The Market Square in Smyrna] (2007), a set of four mini-novels: Balzakiana (2008), Fotoplastikon (2009) and Saturn. Czarne obrazy z życia mężczyzn z rodziny Goya [Black Pictures from the Lives of the Men in the Goya Family] (2011). He has also translated works by O. Mandelsztam, W. H. Auden, P. Larkin, G. Szirtes, K. Verdins and others. He has won literary awards in numerous competitions, including the Red Rose contest, the Prose Competition of the Znak publishing house, the Literary Award of the City of Gdańsk, as well as the Herbert, Rilke, Berezin, Baczyński and Poświatowska competitions. He also won the Kościelscy Award in 2005 and Polityka’s Passport in 2006. He was nominated for the Angelus Award in 2007 and the Nike Award in 2009. He lives in the Powiśle district of Warsaw.