Jakub Małecki (b. 1982) is still a well-kept secret in our part of the world, but in Poland he has long been regarded as one of the most important voices of the younger generation. He has been nominated for various literary awards, including the prestigious Nike Literature Award. His ninth novel in Poland is the first of his works to be translated into Dutch: it was released recently under the title Roest.
Jakub Małecki is a pleasure to listen to. How he pulls it off is not immediately clear, but as an economist by training, he has professional experience in banking, as a media figure he has a voice in the social debate in Poland, and as a writer he has numerous novels to his name. Some are already comparing Małecki to the great master Wiesław Myśliwski.
With the rural novel Roest, this talented storyteller shows what he is capable of. The novel spans several generations. When seven-year-old Szymon goes out to play with his friend by the railway, he has no idea that the death of his parents at that very moment is going to derail his life.
As a result, he ends up in the village of his eccentric grandmother Tośka. Like everyone else her age, she was affected by the Second World War and has suffered losses. Can a novel about a life full of suffering and misfortune be anything other than a pitiful and depressing story? In fact it can, yes. In Jakub Małecki’s hands, it becomes a ‘clear, subtle novel with a great sense of humour’, according to De Standaard der Letteren.
Passa Porta, Pools Instituut, Querido, L&M Books, KVS