I mentioned in one of my previous posts why I rarely review Polish books I read, but this may change a bit in the next few posts because majority of the books I read in January was in Polish and they are worth sharing, so I have no other choice but to tease you a bit. To make it a bit less awful, where possible I’ll share the links to books by those authors that have been translated to English, German or French.
With that said let’s start on ‘Wyspa Łza’ or ‘The Teardrop Island’ by Joanna Bator. I got to know her books two years ago when I got ‘Ciemno, prawie noc’/‘Dunkel, fast Nacht’. It was a dark, emotional and scary book by an author of amazing imagination and great prose. I loved it, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that was so tender and yet so dark. Mind you, it is not a horror. With that I was hooked, I read ‘Chmurdalia’/’Wolkenfern‘ and loved it too. This year I got ‘The Teardrop Island’ (excuse my word for word translation), which, I was surprised to see, got quite negative reviews on Goodreads, it actually go me even more interested.
The book is not entirely fiction and it’s not total non-fiction. It is a story of Bator’s travel to Sri Lanka, it is being marketed as her investigation into disappearance of Sandra Valentine in the 1980’s. This is a cheat and probably the reason for a lot of the bad reviews, for Joanna Bator is not looking for Sandra Valentine, she is looking for her muse, trying to break free from her dark self and knowing she’ll never succeed because this is her muse. It is partially a travel journal, and as such it definitely convinced me not to travel to Sri Lanka – too many insects for my liking. Partially it is a literary introspection and as one could expect it is a fair bit of navel gazing, but usually at the point when I was getting irritated by this Bator digresses on to something absurdly mundane, keeping the right balance between pathos and absurd of everyday life. Maybe as an egocentric myself I am more forgiving to her self-centered narration.
The book is written in a beautiful sensual and emotional prose. I felt as if she feels all emotions with all her senses, not just internally. Of course it is also a literary creation, we should not trust even for a second that Bator completely exposes herself. She actually creates her fictional self and it makes sense because first and foremost she is great writer creating great characters, so why not create herself.
The book is also beautifully published, not too big to comfortably read hard back, with photos by Adam Golec that definitely add to the dark, humid at times suffocating atmosphere of this book.
Just before my January book buying ban (that now seems to extend into February on its own) I bought Bator’s newest fiction book ‘Rok Królika’/’The Year of a Rabbit’ and I’m very much looking forward to it.