A Treatise on Shelling Beans (excerpt)
Born in the village of
Dwikozy, Poland in 1932,
Myśliwski straddles worlds –
remember, yet born into a wartime that defies
understanding. His works mix a relentless, sweetly-resigned
nostalgia with an exquisite palate of storytelling tools, for a
sustained, flowing narrative that is engagingly likeable –
despite his characters' tragic flaws of birth, happenstance,
culture and inclination. This is a style best engaged in
depth, so we're starting this issue with a generous sample –
a whole chapter – from his most recently translated novel,A Treatise on Shelling Beans .
The book is told by a caretaker
at a holiday housing complex, met by a stranger seeking
beans; this sets him off on a long, weaving recounting of his
phases of life experience, and the Polish history he's lived
through along the way.
The Times Literary Supplement
this work, “[a] marvel of narrative seduction, a rare double
masterpiece of storytelling and translation.”
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston.