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Kapuściński
The Devil and a Bar of Chocolate (Diabeł i tabliczka czekolady)
Paweł Piotr Reszka
published by Agora, Warsaw

Illumination with no frills
Above all, this is a wise book. It comprises texts that are not very long or are even very short. Some are just quotes from letters, from recorded utterances, painting an excellent portrait of people, their attitudes, their lives. Reszka writes about unusual events and about the daily grind. He is a reporter who doesn’t want to surprise and amaze his readers. Love, sex, heroism, faith, quirks and superstitions – they define our world, a world to which the writer has devoted this book made up of snapshots that still form a cohesive whole. He extracts all the things that are concealed out of shame or modesty yet influence reality anyway. Where does Reszka’s wisdom come from? I think he simply likes and respects the people he writes about.
Piotr Mitzner

Paweł Piotr Reszka

(born in 1977) studied history at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS) in the eastern Polish city of Lublin and journalism at postgraduate level at the University of Warsaw. Since 2002 he has been working at the Lublin branch of Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza daily. He writes feature stories exploring a variety of social issues, often focusing on socially excluded people who feel wronged by fate and have gone through all kinds of traumatic experiences. Twice nominated for the Grand Press Award in the Press Reportage category. A fan of analog synthesizers and a power kite enthusiast.

The Magician of Lublin

Paweł Piotr Reszka’s volume of reportages The Devil and a Bar of Chocolate is reviewed by juror Maciej Zaremba Bielawski

The central figures in Paweł Piotr Reszka’s reportages include a six-times murderer and a five-times murderess, a priest that drives Satan out of children, another priest who demonstrates divine love to novices lying down. Also: a teenage boy who lived for six years with an Internet ghost until he stabbed it to death with a knife. And Tadeusz who discovered the world all over again when he started bathing.

A cabinet of curiosities? A panorama of Poland “B”? Nothing of the sort. Reszka is not really interested in the grotesque. And not particularly in Poland “B”, either. He writes from the Lublin region, so some topics obviously spring to mind: homes without bathrooms, clergymen without a conscience, villages without a memory. But these stories could have happened in New York, last autumn or a hundred years ago. That is what’s extraordinary about Reszka’s reportages. Years will go by and centuries will pass, but the story of Janina who cannot live without Radio Maryja will be just as poignant as it is today.

I won’t say what you can find out from Reszka’s reportages because that would be a form of betrayal of his aesthetics. The meaning and depth of these texts does not lie in the plot but in the feelings of the central figures. And those are expressed in the first person. Without any commentary. Paweł Piotr Reszka has a high opinion of his readers’ sensitivity and sense of humour.

A beautiful and wise book, a show of inquisitiveness, emotional intelligence and disciplined style. I would also add: a lesson in trust. And anyone who wishes to, will find food for really disturbing thought. How is it that in a country considering itself an anchor of Christianity, people are afraid that their good deeds might come to light? Because no one will believe they came from love of one’s neighbour. Of course there must have been gains involved. Reading fit for religious instruction.

Maciej Zaremba Bielawski

Laureate of the 7th edition

Laudatory Speech for Paweł Piotr Reszka by Jury Chairman Maciej Zaremba Bielawski

"(...)For the second time in the history of the award, we are rewarding a book that is largely a collection of earlier pieces published in a daily newspaper (over the course of nine yearsin this case). A collection of what can be described as ad hoc reports. This confirms the old truth that there is no better school of journalism for a reporter than the reader on a suburban commuter train, combined with the nitpicking editor and space constraints.(...)"

Read the whole laudatory speech HERE

Book

The Devil and a Bar of Chocolate (Diabeł i tabliczka czekolady)
Paweł Piotr RESZKA

published by Agora