Jacek Dukaj

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  • fot. Anna Zemanek

(b. 1974) prose-writer, philosopher by education. Winner of the Kościelski Prize 2008 for his novel Ice. He made his debut very early, at sixteen years old, in the journal "Fantastyka", and quickly gained recognition as one of the most promising writers of literature of the fantastic (some consider him a successor to Stanisław Lem). He has been many times given the Janusz A. Zajdel Award, which has a great deal of prestige in fantasy circles. Tomasz Bagiński made an animated film called Cathedral based on motifs from a Dukaj short story, garnering an Oscar nomination in the process.

In his first collection of prose, Xavras Wyżryn (1997), Dukaj created an alternate vision of Polish history. His following books – including the novels Black Oceans, Extensa, Other Songs, and An ideal Imperfection – confirmed his ability to make free use of various fantastical prose conventions, with even a certain virtuosity, putting elements of science fiction, fantasy and cyber-punk into the mix.

Dukaj has an extraordinary facility for creating complete fictional worlds in his prose, imagined down to the minutest detail, and based on coherent philosophical or scientific principles. He sometimes creates them as thought experiments; for example, in Other Songs the author tried to show how the world would look if the ancient Greek philosophers were right in how they saw its nature and mechanisms. Generally, however, the writer’s incredible inventiveness serves to contemplate the possible outcomes of the development of civilization and evolution of mankind (in An Ideal Imperfection, a novel that takes place in the 29th century, he describes post-human creatures, among others).

A major advantage of Dukaj’s prose is his sharply outlined protagonists; they are often people who must play vital roles in the history of a given society, but who are marked by some flaw, and thus are forced to grapple with themselves, such as Hieronim Berbelek in Other Songs or Adam Zamojski in An Ideal Imperfection. Dukaj’s books are not only impeccable in terms of technique, they also appeal to readers through their refined humor and inventive language (the writer created a completely new language for his post-people). The author of Black Oceans writes multi-layered texts, which are snapped up both by people who simply love a good story, and by readers who would like to delve into the writer’s anthropological and philosophical concepts.

Bibliography

  • Xavras Wyżryn, SuperNOWA, Warszawa 1997.
  • W kraju niewiernych, SuperNOWA, Warszawa 2000.
  • Czarne oceany, SuperNOWA. Warszaw 2001.
  • Extensa, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2002.
  • Inne pieśni, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2003.
  • Katedra, ilustracje T. Bagiński, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2003.
  • Xavras Wyżryn i inne fikcje narodowe, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2004.
  • Perfekcyjna niedoskonałość, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków 2005.
  • Lód, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków, 2007.
  • Córka łupieżcy, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków, 2009.
  • Wroniec, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków, 2009.
  • Król Bólu, Wydawnictwo Literackie, Kraków, 2010.
  • Starość Aksolotla, Allegro, 2015

Translations:

Bulgarian:

  • Inne pieśni, trans. Sylwia Borisowa, Sofia: Colibri, 2015.

Czech:

  • Katedrála [Katedra] in: Polská ruleta [the Czech anthology of Polish fantasy], trans. Pavel Weigel, Plzeň: Laser, 2003
  • Srdce Temna [Serce Mroku] in: Polská ruleta 2 [the Czech anthology of Polish fantasy], trans. Pavel Weigel, Plzeň: Laser, 2005

English:

  • The Golden Galley [Złota Galera] in: The Dedalus book of Polish fantasy, trans. Wiesław Powaga, Dedalus/Hippocrene 1996

German:

  • Die Goldene Galeere [Złota Galera] in: Auf der Straße nach Oodnadatta, trans. Jacek Rzeszotnik, Heyne Verlag, 2001

Hungarian:

  • Extensa [Extensa], trans. Mihályi Zsuzsa, Budapeszt: Typotex, 2012
  • Zuzanna és a világmindensé [Córka łupieżcy], trans. Mihályi Zsuzsa, Budapeszt: Typotex, 2012
  • Más dalok [Inne pieśni], trans. Mihàlyi Zsuzsa, Budapeszt: Typotex, 2015

Italian:

  • Gli imperi tremano [Xavras Wyżryn], trans. Francesco Annicchiarico, Massa: Transeuropa, 2012.
  • La Cattedrale [Katedra], trans. Marco Valenti, Justyna Kulik, Milano: Editioni Voland, 2013

Russian:

  • Мухобой in: Польская фэнтези [the Russian anthology of Polish fantasy], ACT, 2002