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Killing Auntie & other work

Authors: Andrzej Bursa

Published by CB Editions

ISBN: 9780955728587

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I’d been waiting years
Until the Prophet came
He held forth all night
Smoked all my cigarettes
I didn’t understand a thing

(from ‘Prophet’)

I began to consider the ways of disposing of the corpse. It seemed child’s play. I’ll chop the body up, flush some parts down the loo, burn some, take others away in parcels and throw them in the river or bury them. Bury where? Ah, it’s a trifle... I felt light-headed and carefree. I decided to carry out the plan without further ado. I went into the kitchen with an open penknife.
(from ‘Killing Auntie’)

We kill auntie – who is kind, who looks after us – to free ourselves. But how do we dispose of the body? And then, after the blunt saw and the mincer and the choking stove, what to do with the freedom?

Translated from the Polish and introduced by Wiesiek Powaga, this volume includes, in addition to the first English translation of the short novel Killing Auntie, poems, parables, short stories, lyrics and dramatic scenarios, showing the full range of Bursa’s work.

"From the admirable CB editions comes a delightful discovery. Dead at 25 in 1957, the Polish postwar firebrand Andrzej Bursa acquired a reputation as a quick-burning, existentially tormented rebel: a literary James Dean of the Stalinist era. This selection of his quirky, darkly witty work – poems, fables, above all the titular novella– does indeed summon the shades of Beckett or Kafka from time to time. Everyday life slips into scenes of fantasy or horror, as when the local Party secretary sacrifices children to a dragon, 'an old, blind, mouldy beast' that still tears them apart. Yet Bursa’s dark humour and deadpan satire – finely captured here by translator Wiesiek Powaga – keep utter bleakness at bay. Some will think of Dostoyevsky when it comes to the snuffed-out relative in the novella; read to the end and you hear something like Joe Orton’s wicked cackle too."
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

Andrzej Bursa was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1932, grew up amid war and terror, and died aged twenty-five. He first published in 1954, the year following Stalin’s death, and in the span of just two years he wrote a body of work remarkable for both its fierce originality and its precocious maturity. His early death established him as a cult figure – the voice of his generation, and of later generations of restless, ambitious, disenchanted youth.

Wiesiek Powaga’s translations from the Polish include White Raven by Andrzej Stasiuk (Serpent’s Tail, 2001) and In Sarah’s House by Stefan Grabinski (CBe, 2007); he edited and translated The Dedalus Book of Polish Fantasy (Dedalus, 1997). He lives in London and a village in Hungary.
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