Michał Witkowski (born 1975) is well established as a novelist in Poland, known for his unabashed descriptions of the Polish gay underground, which broke barriers in a country still emerging from the repression of the communist past. His first novel, Lubiewo, remains his most successful, and has been published in many languages including English (as Lovetown, Portobello Books, 2010). Before The Lumberjack he published a set of short stories, and two other novels, Margot and Barbara Radziwiłłówna, though these have not appeared in English. The Lumberjack has been very well received in Poland and became a bestseller.
In December 2011 Witkowski came third in a list of Poland’s top ten best novelists under the age of 40 issued by the leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza. Witkowski has often appeared on Polish television, and is quite a controversial figure in Poland. He is also very popular, and has had great success with stage versions (monologues) of his novel Barbara Radziwiłłówna, as well as with his own audio recordings of his other novels.
Featured Reading Group Title
Drwal (The Lumberjack)
This comic novel, set in November 2009, tells how a 36-year-old writer called Michał – a shameless self-portrait – goes to a holiday resort on the Baltic coast out of season, planning to write a crime novel. Instead he ends up investigating his mysterious host at the old forestry lodge, a man with a past that goes back to the communist-era roots of this small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. The plot is really an excuse for some high comedy, as Michał, the camp outsider, applies his own eclectic narrative style to everyone and everything he encounters. Though structurally a crime novel, this new book is a literary and a stylistic game. Witty, playful, extremely inventive linguistically, this novel is a greatly enjoyable. Witkowski is now working on a sequel.
- The Lumberjack is featured in our Polish Reading Group Winter-Spring 2013.
- Click here to read an extract in English, and please tell us what you think.
- Click here to visit Michał Witkowski’s website (in Polish).