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Kapuściński
A House with Two Turrets (Dom z dwiema wieżami/Huset med de två tornen)
Maciej Zaremba Bielawski

translated from the Swedish by Mariusz Kalinowski

published by Karakter

How I became me
In 1968 the author heard his mother say: "We're leaving. I’m Jewish". He took on the role of the mediator, trying to convince his father that "mother will be humiliated if she stays" and his mother that "father will be humiliated if he goes away". "House.." written in Sweden half a century later is a journey into the depths of consciousness. Contrary to what one might think, it is not an autobiography. It is a sort of a reportage from one’s own memory which gradually makes one become "who one is". A descendant of a knight from Grunwald and the judge Izaak Immerdauer from Krzeszowice, the author "descends" into the time of his grandparents to take upon himself the burden of unspoken Polish-Jewish history.
Tadeusz Sobolewski

Three words

Juror Julia Fiedorczuk writes on ‘A House with Two Turrets’ (‘Dom z dwiema wieżami/ Huset med de två tornen’) by Maciej Zaremba Bielawski, translated by Mariusz Kalinowski

Should this book be a little less beautiful, the pain of the story it grows out of would become unbearable. Ananke is a goddess with a stony heart. Maciej falls in love with her when still only a boy. It is his father, a descendant of a knight from Grunwald, a free-thinking gentlemen and a doctor who reformed Polish psychiatry, who tells Maciej about the Greek gods. However, it is his mother, also a doctor, who shows him the true meaning of fate in 1968 when she declares: “We are leaving. I am Jewish” (In Polish it is only three words).

But the 77-year-old father does not want to leave. Maciej is seventeen and his world has just fallen apart.

Many years later he reconstructs the story leading to his birth. Examining memories, letters and archival documents he uncovers subsequent layers of the palimpsest of his identity. As far as it can be done, he reconstructs his parents’ lives before and during the war. He tries to understand the pact they made in 1950: “if there are children, they well be kept ignorant of everything that could disturb their spiritual balance”.

An all-too-Polish book written in Swedish and beautifully translated by Mariusz Kalinowski creates a new genre of personal reportage. It tells about estrangement, an exile from one’s own self. “What is the name of this thing which has taken my country away?” – asks “he”, “I”, “the boy that I was” or “one who became me”. He asks all of us.

Julia Fiedorczuk

Maciej Zaremba Bielawski

(b. 1951): emigrated to Sweden in 1969. Worked as a janitor in a hospital, and as a crane operator. He studied history of ideas. His journalism started from “Solidarność” (Solidarity movement): in 1981 he came back to Poland to work on assignments from several edition boards. Together with his wife, a writer Agneta Pleijel, he translated to Swedish poetry of Zbigniew Herbert. Today he’s among most prominent Swedish publicists and reporters, working for a leading Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. Maciej Zaremba Bielawski holds an honorary degree from the University of Lund.

In 1997 he has shed a light on the matter of forced sterilization of “unwelcome” citizens, a matter that he made also a subject of his book Hygienists. From the history of Eugenics (Higieniści. Z dziejów eugeniki, publ. in Polish by Czarne, 2011).

Maciej Zaremba Bielawski has been distinguished with numerous prizes awarded in recognition of his work. Among them several awards granted by the Swedish Academy, Grand Journalism Prize for a reportage series titled Polish Plumber... (Polski hydraulik..., published in Poland by Czarne, 2008 and (extended edition) by Agora, 2013), the Golden Pen of the Swedish Publicists' Club.

His reportage A House with Two Turrets was considered one of the most important books of the year in Poland.

Mariusz Kalinowski

(b. 1960). Swedish philologist, translator, literary scholar, co-director and screenwriter of documentary films: Tata Kazika (Kazik's Dad), Czas Komedy (Komeda's Time), Był raz dobry świat (There Once Was a Good World). He was honoured with the Göran O. Eriksson Award in Sweden for translations of theatre plays (a.o. Miss Julie by A. Strinberg, C.E.O. by S. Larsson, One Night in a Swedish Summer by E. Josephson). He translated (and edited) Journal of Dreams by E. Swedenborg and Inferno by A. Strindberg. The works of the latter are a scope of Kalinowski’s interests as a researcher as well. He translated Pol Pot's Smile of Peter Fröberg Idling (publ. in Polish by Czarne, 2010), which was shortlisted in the second edition of the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for literary reportage, and A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz of Göran Rosenberg (publ. by Czarne, 2013), chosen by the jury of the 6th edition of the Kapuściński Award as the best translation of the year. Mariusz Kalinowski lives in a forest in central Sweden.

Book

A House with Two Turrets (Dom z dwiema wieżami/Huset med de två tornen)
Maciej Zaremba Bielawski

translated from the Swedish by Mariusz Kalinowski

published by Karakter