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Kapuściński
Missing (Nie ma)
Mariusz Szczygieł

published by Dowody na Istnienie

Some kind of alchemy is at work in this book, or dancing on a tightrope – so unexpected is its composition and yet so carefully structured, so sharp the compass that drives it. Prague, Budapest, Paris, Warsaw; mundane life and metaphysics. “Reportage is the inability to experience one’s existence through fiction” – writes Szczygieł. He therefore guides us through reality, from scraps of his own experiences and the experiences of others composing a story which helps us to confront the central fact of what's “missing”; the lack around which all our lives revolve.
Olga Stanisławska

In the shadow of de-selection

Juror William Brand writes on ‘Nie ma’ (‘Missing’) by Mariusz Szczygieł

Mariusz Szczygieł explores the idea of absence. Things go away, and people, and books, although sometimes individual copies can be protected from de-selection. Does remembering help? The author’s father rehearses important events in his memory because he knows they might come in useful. Of course memory can fail us, or it can become a reservoir of negative experiences. The narrative of the protagonist of “The River” is made up of torn sentences and ellipses. There must be things she cannot bring herself to say. Ewa from “The Balance” organizes her life in Excel and her reckoning is in the black. She would like her death to be classified among her “successes.” “Since life itself is a success, the finale of life must be one, too.” The author reminds us of the similarity of the Polish words for death (“śmierć”) and garbage (“śmieć”). With people as with things one must always remake, recycle, anticipate.

We don’t know where the dead go but we often commune with them and they with us. Each of the texts in Szczygieł’s book is different but threads, echoes and prefigurations run through them all, and thus reportage becomes a meditation.

What is lacking defines and perhaps even conditions our life. Szczygieł transgresses the limits of traditional reporting to express something that may change our view of life, or maybe even the way that we live.

William Brand

Book

Missing (Nie ma)
Mariusz Szczygieł

published by Dowody na Istnienie