Crime fiction
Wojciech Chmielarz
Den of Vipers

A succesful combination of social drama and psychological thriller adapted into a Canal+ TV series

She’d tried to kill herself twice. The first time she’d taken sleeping pills. A whole handful of Rohypnol, which she washed down with vodka. She felt relaxed and happy as hell. Bad thoughts fled from her mind, though earlier they would coat her cerebral ganglia in a layer of black, sticky pitch. And then, out of the blue, she got scared. She went to the bathroom, bumping painfully into the wall on the way. She knelt by the toilet and put two fingers deep into her mouth. She started to vomit, but the toilet lid fell on her and hit the back of her head. Once she had thrown up everything in her stomach and only yellowish, sour saliva poured from her mouth, she went back to the bedroom and fell asleep for sixteen hours.

The second time had been a matter of impulse. February. Wet, cold, and dark. She had been crying for a long time in the bathroom. She used up almost an entire roll of toilet paper, wiping tears from her face. Finally she got up. She went to the parlor. She opened the balcony doors. A cool breeze fanned her. She first placed one leg over the railing, then the other. She gazed down. There were five floors below her, and at the very bottom, a walkway laid with paving stones. There was nothing in the way to break her fall. Nothing that could save her life.

“Mom?”

She looked behind her. Ignaś stood in the balcony doorway. She had completely forgotten he was in the house. She quickly got down from the railing. Her heart was pounding painfully, knocking against her ribs. She hugged her son to her and ran home with him. Again, she started crying.

She was glad the little one was only three, that he wouldn’t remember the sight of his mother planning to throw herself from the sixth floor. But then she realized he wouldn’t remember Ada either. She didn’t want to live in a world where her son’s only recollections of his sister would come from other people’s stories.

Mothers always say they love all their children equally.

Mothers lie. (…)

Adaoma loved Nigeria from the moment she set foot there. No city, no London, Paris or New York had as much energy in it as Lagos. She adored going back. To blend into the noisy crowd, observe others, go to parties where wildly dancing people showered banknotes over one another. Yet her true life was here, in Poland. In a country which was sometimes better, sometimes worse, which lacked much, but which was her home. Her place on earth, which she would not exchange for any other. No matter how many people on the internet wrote she wasn’t a true Pole and never would be. Or how many would like to drive her out beyond the Mediterranean Sea, because it, they claimed, was the border between humans and apes. She concealed her disdain behind a practiced smile while in her heart she wished them all the worst, realizing how ultra-Polish this behavior was.

Exerpt translated by Sean Gaspar Bye

Extended excerpt available (a.urbanowska@bookinstitute.pl)

Crime fiction
Wojciech Chmielarz
Den of Vipers

A succesful combination of social drama and psychological thriller adapted into a Canal+ TV series

Publisher: Marginesy, Warszawa 2018
Translation rights: Marginesy, a.galandzij@marginesy.com.pl

Wojciech Chmielarz is one of the most popular names in Polish crime fiction. This young, barely thirty-five-year-old author already has ten novels to his name, and with each book his talent matures. Den of Vipers shows that Chmielarz not only has valuable skills as a storyteller, but that he’s also a keen observer of social transformations. It was no accident that this book was chosen to be adapted for television by Canal Plus.

Den of Vipers is the story of a group of the author’s peers, people who’ve crossed the border of thirty and are slowly approaching forty. They grew up after the fall of Communism in now-free Poland. Some have had more success than others. They include managers, typical corporate employees, but also a real estate agent and a TV star. They have problems raising their children, their marriages haven’t worked out, some are still single despite their age, but they share a tradition of gathering every year somewhere on a lake in the forested wilderness to reminisce about the good old days. But were they so good? In the end it turns out that these college friendships and acquaintances are streaked with negative feelings, and passions –maybe even hatred – smoulder under the surface. Arguments gets out of hand, someone tries to drown someone else in the lake, someone is insanely jealous. Finally teenage Ada, who’s come on vacation with her parents, goes missing during one of the parties. Despite an intensive year-long search, no one can find her. Some of those implicated in these events meet in the same place a year later to search again. The most determined of all is the girl’s father, who alone seems to believe that she’s still alive. And though the village of Żmijowisko – whose name means ‘den of vipers’ – reluctantly accepts his presence, he doesn’t give up.

Den of Vipers is not only a well-written intrigue, it’s also a fascinating portrait of contemporary Poland. This book examines the conditions of Polish society thirty years after the transition to democracy, not only from the perspective of Warsaw, but that of the provinces as well. It’s further proof that genre hybrids – for instance, a combination of social drama and thriller – are the future of crime fiction.

Mariusz Cieślik, translated by Sean Gasper Bye

Publisher: Marginesy, Warszawa 2018
Translation rights: Marginesy, a.galandzij@marginesy.com.pl

Selected samples

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Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Olanda
Wojciech Kudyba
Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Bienczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Majewski
Weronika Murek
Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Swietek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

Ks. Tomasz Stępień

This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
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