The event celebrated the brightest and best in Polish crime fiction writing talent. The literary- set included William Broderick author of The Day of a Lie; Anya Lipska author of Where the Devil Cant Go, Joanna Jodelka author of Polychrome and also Mariusz Czubaj author of 21:37
Journalist Rosie Goldsmith charmingly picked apart the ingredients of Polish crime fiction. Was there something unique to Polish crime fiction that stood it apart from the well thumbed novels of Ian Rankin and what were the common characteristics, if any, amongst the selected writers?
Mariusz Czubaj is the author of the intriguingly entitled yet easily memorable 21:37 Interestingly in case you were wondering just what was behind the title of Mariusz`s book 21:37, it signifies the time Polish Pope John Paul was meant to have nearly died. Interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked Czubaj if he was brave to write a story involving potent topics such as politics, religion, and corruption and expose himself to criticism in the process. As far as abuse allegations within the church were concerned, Czubaj was blissfully unaware of any allegations of abuse within the church until after the book was published. However he struck me as something of an iconoclast with a healthy irreverence for the shortcomings of institutions, and would not risk fear garrot his creativity. A great novel but something of a sleeper in literary terms. Czubaj revealed when published in 2008, it received a lukewarm response from the Polish public. Was there no appetite for crime fiction or did the novel offend conservative (with a small c) Polish reading tastes? Journalist Rosie Goldsmith then commented on the main character within 21:37 Interestingly the main protagonist in the book Rudolph was an interesting character, free from stereotypes. Czubaj explained that the character’s profession as profiler, was a “metaphor” for someone who was basically a “good person in a crazy world” and far from a two dimensional character, he was one made of real “blood and guts”.
Joanna Jodelka won the High Calibre Award for the Best Polish Crime Novel, taking the prize in 2010 for her debut Polychrome (Polichromia, 2009).Former art historian, Joanna Jodelka explained that she was determined to write a crime novel and used her thesis to help her write the book. Infact we may have not have seen her first book, had it not been for her then professor`s constant goading. It seemed it was a torturous experience but a cathartic one for her. Jodelka was in fact the first Polish female to win the High Calibre award. Were there a distinct lack of Polish female crime fiction writers? interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked. Jodelka revealed that since winning the award, there were more Polish female crime fiction writers coming forward. Could we expect a whole new sub genre of crime fiction with darker, intelligent female insights with less machismo, to rival the current body of American or English male crime fiction writers? Do female crime fiction writers make better writers then male crime fiction writers ? Now that’s a question to get the male literary rabble roused.
Next to bask in the glow of literary adulation was novelist Anya Lipska, with her debut novel Where The Devil Cant Go. The sometime television producer wanted the structure of a crime novel which could get into peoples` motivations and has issues of morality, guilt, loss and betrayal. Interviewer Rosie Goldsmith made a salient point of how Lipska manages to bridge the two cultures by producing the two key characters; the ambitious young detective Natalie Kershaw and hard man with a heart Janusz Kiszka , a kind of underworld fixer/sleuth who is less sleuth and more ruthless. Interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked Did she know people like them? According to Lipska, Natalie is a woman in a man`s world and like her, she was a woman in a man`s television exec world so they were “composite characters”.
Finally William Broderick author of The Day of the Lie. An interesting background, beginning his life as a friar in Dublin, Ireland. After several years as a friar, he left the order to help set up a charity at the request of Cardinal Hume, The Depaul Trust. In 1991 he became a barrister and is now a writer. He has written several books featuring the character Father Anslem. Rather then a protagonist flawed and haunted by inner demons, we have Father Anslem who Broderick explains is plagued by the never -ending question of why people commit crimes. Broderick has several books with a Polish connection. Why Poland ? interviewer Rosie Goldsmith asked. Broderick commented that his mother who was of Dutch origin, believed that the “English know what it is to be bombed but not to be occupied and according to Broderick there was a “profound ignorance of the Polish (war) experience.”
The event proved to be a wonderful foray into Polish crime fiction writing, peppered with interesting insights and personalised with readings. For me, the well-organised event was a seminal moment and provided a photo-fit of Polish crime writing in 2014. We were witnessing possibly the beginning of a literary movement that could see the birth a whole new sub-genre which in time will hopefully see a burgeoning Polish Crime fiction scene.
Joanna Jodelka: Polychrome Polychrome was translated by Danusia Stok
William Broderick: The Day of The Lie It is published by Little Brown.
Rosie Goldsmith is Chair of European Literature Night held at the British Library.She is a journalist specializing in arts and international affairs, in the UK and abroad. As a BBC broadcaster she travelled the world, from Libya to Japan to East Timor. She began her career at the BBC in 1989 on a programme called ‘Europhile’, covering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolutions of Eastern Europe. She also presented flagship BBC radio shows like Front Row, Open Book, A World In Your Ear and Crossing Continents.