Modern Classics
Marek Nowakowski
Prince of the Night. The Best Short Stories

Beneath the surface of everyday life

Our world was small but seemed enormous. The daily local EKD train ferried us from the distant outskirts through fields and past low wooden buildings to the town centre. We were running away from our homes, from our parents’ complaining, from school obligations, and from the quietness and relentless order of our district – unchanged for generations – where people called the man who emptied the septic tank ‘goldman’, and whe- re that nickname was passed like a relay baton from the older boys to the younger. We were running from voices announcing, “Any old iron” or “Pots to mend”, and our eyes no longer wanted to look constantly at that same old view from the window. And we thought we could really run away. Sometimes, without shoes or clothes, or shut up at home by my mother, I would close my eyes and all sorts of amazing worlds would appear. The intensifying rattle of wheels on tracks aroused my imagination to take action. Family con- nections prevailed on our route. We knew the guards, they knew us and occasionally they also let us travel without tickets. We passed Wiktoryn, Rapp’s bakery, the roadside cross and the clay pits of Szczęśliwice. And thus, after twenty minutes, we reached the town centre.

The town centre consisted of a few surviving tenement houses sticking up amongst ruins and piles of brick. Trams and horse-drawn carriages, the old hotel deco- rated with Art Nouveau reliefs, open markets and stal- ls, where commercial life teemed, shops, workshops, and small restaurants. Here in the town centre it seemed to us that we had reached the nucleus of the great big world. And after alighting from our blue and yellow train we tirelessly trod those streets, endlessly hoping for something, endlessly expecting something. Night was the best time. It veiled everything in thickening darkness, there were few streetlights at that time, and every gateway, every pile of rubble grew enormous, enhancing that portentous mood of mystery. Cries, whispers, and wheezes drifted from the ruins, and we – trembling in excitement – imagined dramas full of danger and pathos. The Prince of the Night stopped us on a night like that.

“My stable is in danger,” he announced, outraged. Zbyszek Młotek and I were at his beck and call. The Prince of Night had a hawklike nose, a grey mop of hair, and wore richly patterned cravats. He peppered his speech with foreign words and was familiar with the connexions obtaining in many of Europe’s prisons. His appearance was that of a many-coloured bird. The young militiamen who had come straight from the countryside to keep order in the town stared at him mutely. One batty old woman who used to frequent the Cinderella bar was unendingly astonished by him: ”Where could such a flower have sprung up from?” So he was different. And that was actually enough for us. (…)

Zbyszek Młotek’s ribs were fused together and he cla- imed he could take any punch. While I had nothing. A skinny, snot-nosed kid with unruly, sticking-out hair, who wasn’t much good at fighting either. And I so wan- ted something to happen! (…) Zbyszek Młotek and I unanimously agreed that our former lives had been flat and dull.

Which is why when the Prince of Night appeared on the scene, everything immediately whirled around like a merry-go-round.

Excerpt translated by David French

Modern Classics
Marek Nowakowski
Prince of the Night. The Best Short Stories

Beneath the surface of everyday life

Publisher: Wydawnictwo Iskry, Warszawa 2018
Translation rights: Jolanta Nowakowska,

The prose writer Marek Nowakowski, who died in 2014, is today a classic of Polish literature, and his stories are literary paintings that encompass his country’s reality from the late 1950s to very recent times. It is enough to recall that Marek Nowakowski is the author of about 500 stories published in more than 60 books. This huge legacy is the result of a bold response to everyday life and a persistent, day-by-day recording of images that fascinate, frighten and, above all, inspire readers of this prose to reach deep beneath the surface of seemingly everyday life, discovering its hidden and encrypted meanings.

The book contains the best stories of Marek Nowakowski arranged in chronological order, starting with his feted debut Square from 1957. We also find here classic prose, such as Benek the Florist, Where is the Road to Walne?, and Wedding Again! as well as some great stories from the acclaimed Report on Martial Law, translated into many languages and widely commented on in the world literary press in its time. The dark 1980s are symbolised by Death and Two Days with an Angel. It was during this period that the writer was arrested and accused of ”slandering the regime”. After 1989, Marek Nowakowski assiduously described the beginnings of Polish capitalism, as evidenced, for example, in the stories Edek Gets the Upper Hand and Czarna and Mała from the selection. It is impossible to raise here all the elements that can be found in this anthology of more than a thousand pages. But one thing has to be said: it is the tip of the iceberg, after having become acquainted with it, one can delve into this unique work and find such pages to which one will often come back.

Wojciech Chmielewski, translated by Katarzyna Popowicz

Selected samples

Julita Deluga
Wojtek Wawszczyk, Tomasz Leśniak
Anna Kańtoch
Andrzej Bobkowski
Wisława Szymborska
Zdzisław Kranodębski
Andrzej Nowak
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jarosław Jakubowski
Anna Piwkowska
Roman Honet
Miłosz Biedrzycki
Wojciech Chmielewski
Aleksandra Majdzińska
Tomasz Różycki
Maciej Hen
Jakub Nowak
Elżbieta Cherezińska
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
作者:沃伊切赫·維德瓦克(Wojciech Widłak), 插圖:亞歷珊德拉·克珊諾夫斯卡(Aleksandra Krzanowska)
文字:莫妮卡·烏特尼-斯特魯加瓦(Monika Utnik-Strugała), 概念和插圖:皮歐特·索哈(Piotr Socha)
作者:亞格涅絲卡·斯特爾馬什克(Agnieszka Stelmaszyk)
尤安娜·日斯卡(Joanna Rzyska)、阿嘉妲·杜德克(Agata Dudek)、瑪格熱妲·諾瓦克(Małgorzata Nowak) Druganoga出版社,華沙2021
艾麗莎·皮歐特夫斯卡(Eliza Piotrowska)
米科瓦伊·帕辛斯基(Mikołaj Pasiński)、瑪格熱妲·赫爾巴(Gosia Herba)
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
瑪麗安娜·奧克雷亞克(Marianna Oklejak)
拉法爾·科希克(Rafał Kosik)
亞歷珊德拉·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Aleksandra Woldańska-Płocińska)
巴托米耶·伊格納邱克(Bartłomiej Ignaciuk), 阿嘉塔·洛特-伊格納邱克(Agata Loth-Ignaciuk)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
羅珊娜·延澤耶夫斯卡-弗魯貝爾 (Roksana Jędrzejewska-Wróbel)
作者:普舎米斯瓦夫·維赫特洛維奇(Przemysław Wechterowicz) 插圖:艾米莉·吉烏巴克(Emilia Dziubak)
尤斯提娜·貝納雷(Justyna Bednarek) 插圖:丹尼爾·德拉圖爾(Daniel De Latour)
尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
瑪格熱妲·斯文多夫斯卡(Małgorzata Swędrowska)、尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
Jan Kochanowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Olga Tokarczuk
Władysław Stanisław Reymont
An Ancient Tale
Stanisław Rembek
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Maria Dąbrowska
Stefan Żeromski
Bronisław Wildstein
Zbigniew Herbert / Wisława Szymborska
Karol Wojtyła
Wiesław Myśliwski
Czesław Miłosz
Anna Świrszczyńska / Melchior Wańkowicz
Tadeusz Borowski / Gustaw Herling-Grudziński
Wiesław Helak
Góra Tabor
Adriana Szymańska
Paweł Rzewuski
Mariusz Staniszewski
Radek Rak
Urszula Honek
Kazimierz Orłoś
Rafał Wojasiński
Antonina Grzegorzewska
Józef Mackiewicz
Tobiasz Piątkowski, Marek Oleksicki
Daniel Odija
Bronisław Wildstein
Józef Mackiewicz
Józef Mackiewicz
Witold Szabłowski
Andrzej Muszyński
Wiesław Helak
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Dariusz Sośnicki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Jakub Małecki
אנדז'יי ספקובסקי
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jakub Małecki
Aleksandra Lipczak
Jacek Dukaj
Wit Szostak
Bartosz Biedrzycki
Zyta Rudzka
Maciej Płaza
Wojciech Chmielewski
Paweł Huelle
Przemysław "Trust" Truściński
Angelika Kuźniak
Wojciech Kudyba
Michał Protasiuk
Stanisław Rembek
Krzysztof Karasek
Elżbieta Isakiewicz
Artur Daniel Liskowacki
Jarosław Jakubowski
Zbigniew Stawrowski
Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Jerzy Szymik
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło


Marta Kwaśnicka
Piotr Mitzner
Paweł Sołtys
Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
Jakub Małecki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Wojciech Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Weronika Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara 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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