Polish literature is a rich and diverse body of work that has captivated readers for centuries. From the epic poems of the Middle Ages to the groundbreaking novels of the 20th century, Polish writers have consistently pushed the boundaries of storytelling and explored a wide range of themes and styles.
Here are 10 Polish books that you should definitely add to your reading list:
Best Polish Books
1. “Pan Tadeusz” by Adam Mickiewicz
Considered one of the greatest Polish poems ever written, “Pan Tadeusz” is an epic tale of life in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the early 19th century. The poem follows the adventures of Tadeusz, a young nobleman, as he falls in love, fights duels, and battles against foreign invaders .
2. “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa” by Jan Potocki
“The Manuscript Found in Saragossa” is a sprawling, labyrinthine novel that has been compared to the works of Laurence Sterne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jorge Luis Borges. The novel tells the story of a young officer who stumbles upon a mysterious manuscript containing a series of interconnected tales, each more fantastical than the last.
3. “The Doll” by Bolesław Prus
“The Doll” is a classic novel of Polish realism that explores the lives of the wealthy industrialists of 19th century Poland. The novel follows the fortunes of Wokulski, a self-made man who rises from poverty to become a successful businessman, but who is ultimately undone by his own weaknesses and flaws.
4. “The History of Polish Literature” by Czesław Miłosz
“The History of Polish Literature” is a comprehensive and illuminating survey of Polish literature from its earliest beginnings to the present day. The book covers a wide range of genres and styles, from medieval poetry and drama to modernist fiction and contemporary poetry.
5. “The Street of Crocodiles” by Bruno Schulz
“The Street of Crocodiles” is a collection of short stories and sketches by the Polish writer Bruno Schulz. The stories are set in the author’s hometown of Drohobycz and are filled with magical and surreal imagery, exploring the mysteries of the human mind and the hidden depths of the natural world.
6. “The Collected Poems of Wisława Szymborska”
Wisława Szymborska was one of the greatest Polish poets of the 20th century, and her work is celebrated for its wit, wisdom, and insight. This collection brings together all of her poems, from her early works to her later, more experimental pieces. Szymborska’s poems explore a wide range of themes, including love, death, history, and the human condition.
7. “The Polish Complex” by Tadeusz Konwicki
“The Polish Complex” is a semi-autobiographical novel that explores the psychological and emotional impact of living under Soviet rule in post-war Poland. The novel follows the life of the narrator, a writer who is struggling to come to terms with his past and his place in a society that is in constant flux.
8. “The Pianist” by Władysław Szpilman
“The Pianist” is a memoir by Polish musician and composer Władysław Szpilman. The memoir chronicles Szpilman’s experiences during the Holocaust, as he struggled to survive in the Warsaw Ghetto and later on the streets of the city. The book was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film of the same name .
9. “Solaris” by Stanisław Lem
“Solaris” is a science fiction novel by Polish writer Stanisław Lem. The novel follows the story of a team of scientists who are sent to investigate a mysterious, sentient planet called Solaris. As they struggle to understand the planet and its strange inhabitants, they are forced to confront their own deep-seated fears and desires.
10. “The Last Love in Constantinople” by Paweł Huelle
“The Last Love in Constantinople” is a novel by Polish writer Paweł Huelle. The novel tells the story of Wojciech, a young man who is sent to Istanbul to investigate a series of mysterious deaths. As he delves deeper into the case, Wojciech becomes increasingly drawn into the city’s vibrant and exotic culture, and finds himself falling in love with a beautiful Turkish woman.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Polish literature has a rich and diverse history that has produced many great works of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
From the epic poems of Adam Mickiewicz to the surreal stories of Bruno Schulz, Polish writers have consistently pushed the boundaries of storytelling and explored a wide range of themes and styles.
Whether you are a fan of classic literature or a reader of contemporary fiction, there is sure to be a Polish book that will captivate and inspire you.