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A Treatise on Shelling Beans (excerpt)

Wiesław Myśliwski

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.