Trafika Europe 2 - Polish Nocturne

A Treatise on Shelling Beans (excerpt)

Wiesław Myśliwski

Born in the village of Dwikozy, Poland in 1932, Myśliwski straddles worlds – just old enough to

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 calls this work, “[a] marvel of narrative seduction, a rare double masterpiece of storytelling and translation.”

Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston.


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