Waiting for Jesus

It was a sunny morning. A man alighted at a small railway station… This is how a short story might begin. Although, as far as I was concerned, I just could not begin at all. After all, lots of short stories begin this way.  But this is a feuilleton, not a short story, so I ought to begin as follows:  It was a sunny morning. I alighted at a small railway station. A tall, bald man met me on the platform and helped me carry my luggage to the car.  I soon discovered that the man, Alain Baton, was the caretaker at the place I was being driven to. Alain did not speak any Polish, […]

Kafka vs Mills&Boon

I ran a two-day writing course for teachers at a Slovak university in the Vrátna Valley in September 2010. By January 2011 I was still waiting to receive my €€216 fee (including travel costs and the per diem). Since the workshop was funded by the European Union, I had to sign three forms on the spot. I thought that had taken care of the bureaucracy and was looking forward to future cooperation. A few weeks later the organizers wrote to say they urgently needed my Europass CV. As I had no idea what that was, they provided me with a […]

The Gold Harvest

It is a book that won’’t appear until March, yet it has already been hailed as the most important publishing event of 2011. Newspapers have written about it. Journalists and politicians have discussed it on television. It is enough to type the first word of its title into a search engine and hundreds, if not thousands, ofreferences come up. Internet fora are flush with comments. Some are full of indignation, outrage and hatred for the author. He has been called a traitor, a renegade, a liar, a cheat and a slave of mammon. Furious bloggers swear they won’’t touch the […]

Auschwitz and Mozart. 27 January

January 27. Hard frost, snow. All the vulgar, predictable tricks winter has in store are on display: city life has slowed down and pedestrians get stuck in bothersome snowdrifts. The mind also moves at a slower pace. Winter is a provincial illusionist, who has never mastered more than a single trick: that of turning water into ice and snow and back again, turning snow into dirty water. For a while now – ever since realizing what powerful symbols share this date – I have been intrigued by a day that manages to encapsulate two key dimensions of a historical moment. […]