Ignacy Karpowicz in Budapest


The meeting with Ignacy Karpowicz, the author of"Balladynas and Romances" at the XX. International Book Festival in Budapest will be moderated by Balázs Lévai.

Saturday 20 April 2013, 1:30 pm

Millenaris, Sándor Márai room

1024 Budapest, Kis Rókus u. 16–20.

photo: Grzegorz Dąbrowski


13:30 - 14:30 – book promotion (in Hungarian)
14:30 – 15:30 - book signing at the stand of Typotex Publishing House

About the writer

Born 1976, prose-writer, traveler, translator; he made his debut with the novel Uncool (2006), and then published another novel,The Miracle (2007), and a collection of impressions from his journeys around Ethiopia, The Emperor’s New Flower (and Bees) (2007); which was nominated for the POLITYKA Passport; he lives (mainly) in Warsaw.
The first part of Ignacy Karpowicz’s debut novel, Uncool, might seem to suggest that we have here another young prose-writer seeking to describe the various miseries of the provincial life, as the author brings us young and frustrated residents of Białystok who have difficulty making ends meet. But the second part of the novel clearly leans toward unhinged, no-holds-barred grotesque, in which the writer opens the floodgates of fantasy (the main protagonist speaks with animated monuments, the city becomes a battleground for various fractions, wallowing in total chaos). In his next novel,The Miracle, Karpowicz has clearly set his money down on the grotesque. The book’s protagonist dies in a car accident, but his body does not decay after death, on the contrary – it maintains a high temperature. The appearance of this unusual corpse throws the lives of the people who encounter it into confusion, and forces them to reevaluate their views on the world. 
Karpowicz is a refined stylist, who skillfully uses the grotesque, irony and humor (unconventional, disarming, often black) to tackle stereotypical ways of thinking about reality. He makes light of patriotic and religious cliches in an intelligent and refined manner. But Karpowicz is no ordinary provocateur – this mockery is what allows him to gain some distance from the world.
In The Emperor’s New Flower Karpowicz tackles reportage. He describes his travels through Ethiopia, giving us some insight into the history, culture and daily life of this exotic country. The author also tries to deconstruct the traditional model of reportage in his book, consciously bending genres, being neither reportage nor novel, but rather a unique sort of travel prose, thus stressing what he sees as the irreducible subjectivity of his descriptions of the country he encounters.



  • Niehalo, Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2006.
  • Cud, Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2007.
  • Nowy Kwiat Cesarza (i pszczoły), PIW, Warszawa 2007.
  • Gesty, WL, Kraków 2008
  • Balladyny i romanse, WL, Kraków, 2010


About the book

  • Wydawnictwo Literackie
    Kraków 2010
    123 × 197 
    580 pp
    ISBN 978-83-08-04494-0

The title of Ignacy Karpowicz’s novel is made up of the titles of two masterpieces of Polish Romanticism. Adam Mickiewicz’s book of epic poems, Ballads and Romances, is regarded as the collection that initiated this era in Polish literature, and Balladyna is one of Juliusz Słowacki’s best dramas. Knowing the sources of this pun, it is easy to see what it means, but it’s not quite so easy to explain what exactly this mish-mash is. Explaining the concept of “Poland” is no less tricky a task.
Yet what we have here is Poland, “on special offer”, so a small group of gods makes its way there, above all Olympian gods, supported by divinities from some other religions, including Jesus, Osiris and Lucifer. What are they appearing on earth for? To confirm the existence of transcendental beings, and to restore the values which are ignored by the religion that unites the inhabitants of the global village – pop culture. However, their noble intention comes to nothing, as the only difference between the gods and people is that the gods are immortal – what’s more, only in the physical (or metaphysical) sense of the word, and only up to a point.
The novel opens with the monologue of a Chinese fortune cookie as the carrier of existential principles, by which several of the earthly heroes seem to be guided. These characters are connected by family relationships and friendships, and include: a nurse called Olga, a 50-year-old single woman burdened with the stigma of killing on demand; her niece Anka, the living incarnation of “CosmoGirl”; teenage Janek, a typical demoralised social orphan with no future; and Bartek and Rafał, two university lecturers who question the point of their own research. Each of them is suffering, so each of them could do with a radical change. Or a miracle. Can they count on the heavenly invasion to make it happen?
All I shall betray is that in preparing his ironical treatise on the modern human condition, Karpowicz does not fall into the pop-culture trap. He adeptly avoids formulaic plots and steers the fates of his human and non-human characters in perhaps the most unexpected direction. Philosophical thought finds full expression in the form of this book, via its tragi-comic tone, its way of juggling narrative methods and its mixed composition. The result could be an extremely interesting story (as far as Polish creativity goes) about what post-modernity is in a post-communist country.

- Marta Mizuro

source: http://www.instytutksiazki.pl