Joanna Bator: The Sand Mountain


Book presentation

Tuesday 22 November 2011, 7:00 pm


1137 Budapest, Szent István krt 16.


Meeting with the author of the book " The Sand Mountain", Joanna Bator. Moderator: Balázs Lévai.

Jadzia is growing up without father: a war-hero. This is what her mother, Zofia, claims even though the truth is a little different. The father drowned in a river near their family house on the last day of World War II . He was probably drunk. Seven months later the child was born and the village had something to gossip about. Was she conceived by the Jew hidden in Zofia’s attic or by the neighbour who turned out to be a rapist and enemy collaborator? Zofia assumes the latter. Young Jadzia is sent to Wałbrzych, an industrial town in Lower Silesia, to stay with a wealthy cousin. She meets Stefan, who saves her from falling down the slippery stairs of the city’s central train station. Like a knight in shining armour, or a character from the romantic fiction that Jadzia devours in her spare time, he blocks the passage with his own body. Inevitably, her fate is sealed. Soon enough a child is on the way and the vows have to be exchanged. When the daughter is born she looks unlike her parents – she has sharp features, dark eyes and hair – and thus is frequently rejected by her peers. Her grandmother Zofia, on the other hand, adores her more than her own child...

Dominika, the daughter of Jadzia, is a modern girl. She leaves the titular Sand Mountain, an industrial district of Wałbrzych and moves to a foreign country. She would like to show Jadzia the world and the people she has befriended. The relationship between the mother and the daughter is based, however, on cautious silences, habitual conversations, and routine answers. Will they manage to leave the past behind and recover some of their future? The Sand Mountain is a moving story of three women that covers half of the 20th century. Zofia represents the generation of women who had to face the brutality of the war and build their lives anew. Jadzia’s life spans the colourless years of Communist rule over Poland and Dominika witnesses the Polish turn to Capitalism. Passion, struggle, desire, new beginnings and deaths, the complexity of human choices – it is all here in this epic novel, written with utmost precision of thought and unique subtlety (

Magvető Publishing house 2011. Translated by Péter Hermann

Joanna Bator (b. 1968) is a university lecturer, novelist and journalist. She is the author of two exceptionally popular novels, "Sandy Hill" and "Cloudalia".