Literary roundup: Crime, crows and polishness

At The Guardian author of Madame Mephisto, A. M. Bakalar writes about the UK’s invisible Polish minority, describing the wide divergence in identities between those who think of themselves as British and those who continue to exist in an almost exclusively Polish environment. The all-too-common assumption of Poles coming to the UK for higher wages is given short shrift for a more nuanced view in which people are leaving the more robust Polish economy to participate in a more diverse society. The article also highlights some interesting Polish-British cultural interactions.

James Hopkin on short stories

The European Short Stories Network interviews writer James Hopkin about the short story form, his eastern and south-eastern European literary influences and the influence of foreign languages on writing in your native tongue. Hopkin also mentions how poet and translator George Szirtes told him of short story competition with a deadline the next day and having just visited Krakow he sat down and wrote “Even The Crows say Krakow” that night, winning the competition and it’s 5,000 pound prize. (Hey George, feel free to keep me updated on any writing competitions, even at very short notice. Thanks).


International crime fiction

At Words Without Borders there is an article by the publishers of the fantastic Bitter Lemon Press on publishing foreign-language crime fiction and on not (yet) publishing any Scandinavian crime fiction. Bitter Lemon’s focus has been on Italian, French, Dutch, Swiss and other European writers as well as a number of writers from Argentina. At literalab the focus has been on the now two novels of Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miłoszewski and his crime fighter, prosecutor Teodor Szacki – Entanglement and the recently released A Grain of Truth. That there hasn’t been a review of the latter yet is only because I’m preparing one for a big magazine that will pay me wads of cash (if it’s in one or five dollar bills, at least). If you need a Christmas gift recommendation though, buy it – it’s excellent.


Photo – Planet Lem by Teatr Biuro Podróży at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which shows that Poles in the UK don’t only bring their cultural past and present with them but the future as well. Photo by Teatr Biuro Podróży.

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