Wojciech Zembaty
The Hungry Sun

Set in an alternate world where Spaniards never conquered the Americas


Delores opened her eyes and by reflex, groped for her swollen belly. Her pale skin was taut as a drum. She listened, her attention trained on every slight impulse of her body. When she finally heard a kick, a feeble smile transformed her livid lips. Relief smoothed away the fear and pain. For one moment, her world was cleansed of nightmare.

This was no dream, but a bottomless well of screaming, of red waves, of the patter of bare feet and faces sputtering away, extinguished like candles. Here, in the depths of this well, she relived the raid on their village once, twice, then in endless repetition. The panic, the frantic escape. Anything to get far away from the ravaged interior of their home: furniture strewn in the mud, loose cotton whirling in the air, down feathers, and hair flying loose from scalps newly cleaved. Anything to get far away from the crackle of flames and the hiss of human fat, from that terrible sound of the blow to her husband – and then, that red dash seeping suddenly through his brown hair, as if it were not she but he who was about to give birth. Delores felt an urge to cry, but the life inside of her begged her to stifle the sob in her throat.

Zoetal had carried her off, heaving her, dragging her in stride into the woods. Briars had mangled her puffy, bloodstained legs when finally, she roused herself and dug her feet in the ground, clutching her stomach. How on earth had she done it? Just yesterday, she’d spent half the day in contractions. There’s no way, she thought. There’s no way I can get up from this bed to scamper through the shrubs like a stump-legged duck. Please, at least bring a bucket – she’d asked Zoetal. But yesterday? Yesterday was a thousand years ago.

At first, she’d deceived herself. She told herself that the raiders would never chase them into the woods. That they were just petty thieves after loot: metal tools and weapons. The weapons whose craftsmanship had brought her people fame. Forbidden by the edicts of the Kruzian kings – and priceless. But no, they had not come to plunder. In no time, they set off on the hunt. Missiles hurled by atlatli whistled past like diving hawks, seeking out their guts, their hearts. This was not the first time that Delores felt herself quarry for a hunt, but back then, at least the Kruzian cronies had aimed for their legs. They treasured their hostages – live vessels for the Precious Water they’d soon pour down the red, parched throat of their eternally hungry sun.

But back then – back then was a thousand years ago.

Then there was the root, the crack of twisted bone and the first decent hiding spot: a wooded pit strewn with the leaves that fell so relentlessly here in the rainforest. The fallen leaves, and Zoetal’s soothing whisper.

Below them, there were bodies. Delores understood. She knew that their assailants had found other villages, too. That this was no chance raid but an organized campaign. For Delores and for Zoetal, this could be to their advantage. So the Kruz raiders roving through the forest had overlooked two women packed in among dead leaves and human remains. So they had pushed onward. Her lips moved soundlessly, mouthing a silent prayer. Delores huddled close to her friend and then froze. Someone was coming.

They exchanged a deep glance, embracing like the lovers they had never been. The voices of the men grew louder, hoarse and ragged with aggression, rattling with wild laughter. More bodies tumbled onto them. Blood flowed. Delores stared into Zoetal’s green eyes and then watched the light leave them with a dull hiss as a bubble of air and blood burst between her handsome lips.

Excerpt translated by Eliza Rose

Wojciech Zembaty
The Hungry Sun

Set in an alternate world where Spaniards never conquered the Americas


Publisher: Powergraph, Warszawa 2016, 2019
Translation rights: Powergraph,

Let us imagine that Hernán Cortés’ fifteenth-century invasion of the coast of present-day Mexico ended in calamity for the European interlopers. Let us imagine that the Spaniards, decimated by disease, retreated to the Old World, bringing with them a devastating plague. The colonial period never happened, nor did modernity with its great strides in technology.

So begins Wojciech Zembaty’s two-part series The Hungry Sun. The books are set in an alternate world infused with fantasy elements. The title references the god worshipped by the Kruz people, who succeeded the Aztecs after the latter died off. The cruel and ruthless Kruz people built an empire, enslaving all potential rivals and rebels.

The story has several heroes and shifts between their viewpoints, recalling George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. The characters tend to represent the younger generations across diverse cultures, clans and social classes. Each of them bears the burden of tradition – a burden they must inevitably confront. Some yield to fate while others spurn it, choosing to forge their own paths.

We meet the young imperial leader Quinatzin, who toils to reform his world and curtail the power of the priests. Then there is Haran, a boy of partially European extraction adopted into the Druazz clan, who falls into captivity and becomes a forced labourer in the mines. Our third hero is Tennok of the people of the Turquoise Spear. This introvert is demure and faint of heart, a disgrace to his family and scourge to his hypermasculine father. Finally, there is the heroine Citlali, who rejects the role assigned to her as lady of the court. She refuses to bear more children or while away her life in stuffy chambers. She does everything she can to change her fate.

The world rendered by Zembaty in these two volumes is brutal yet suffused with mysticism and intriguing hallucinatory details. For the real force lording over the Kruz empire is ‘braazatal’ – a substance used to fabricate weapons that doubles as a potent narcotic. Hungry Sun reads as literary black metal, and it entrances readers with its raw, pagan gloom.

Marcin Kube, translated by Eliza Rose

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


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Piotr Mitzner
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Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
Jakub Małecki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
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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

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Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
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Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
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Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
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Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
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Wojciech Orliński
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