“Ciemno, prawie noc” by Joanna Bator

Nie piszę, by świat upiększyć, ale by go zmienić.”

– Joanna Bator

In “Ciemno, prawie noc,” Joanna Bator sets her story in the Polish border region near the town of Walbrzych where throughout the years history intermixed lives of Germans, Roma and Polish people.

This incredibly dense novel investigates, among others, the complex identity of borderlands. The book raises questions about identity such as: what is past and what meaning does it have for an individual?; is it possible to escape from the past, to leave it behind?; is there something like a previous identity?; is it possible to erase one’s previous identity?; can we forget?

Moreover, the book suggests that although so much has changed throughout the years and we are proud of the progress we made as a nation, there are still social problems that make the childhood experience of many young people not that different from the dramatic experiences of an individual in a war time.

This detective story draws a condensed picture of the Polish society with its xenophobia and fake Catholicism.  At the same time, it is not stripped of magical elements. The book contains great literary portraits of people. Bator mixes genres and explores new literary forms such as internet fora – with an obsessive language they use they are perhaps the most artistic parts of the book.

A tremendously good read.

„Jestem wrażliwa na okrucieństwo, a ta książka powstała z poczucia, że na świecie jest niewiarygodna ilość zła, że tego nie sposób wytrzymać: tej ilości przemocy wobec dzieci, zwierząt, ludobójstwa za ludobójstwem, bez końca.” – mówi Bator.

„ Zawsze czułam w życiu obecność mrocznej bliźniaczki – mówi. – W dzieciństwie nazywałam ją Helga. Siedziała ze mną w poniemieckiej szafie. Ona przychodzi do mnie z ciemności, daje mi dziwne przedmioty i mówi: „Siostro, bierz i zrób coś z tym”. Głównie przynosi mi obrzydlistwa.”

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Joanna Bator, Ciemno, prawie noc, W.A.B. 2012.