Let’s imagine that a complex piece of technology has gone wrong – the time machine, in which we were travelling to a prehistoric era, has ended its journey almost as soon as it started. So instead of being among dinosaurs and mammoths, we’ve ended up in a world that is very familiar to at least half of Polish society. Here we are in the perfect little Polish town, like something out of a dream, whose citizens, fed up with the agonies of real life at the beginning of the twenty-first century, have chosen to forget about Europeanization, capitalism, privatization and Western liberal democracy. In short, they’ve decided to turn back the clock and renounce the blessings of civilization in order, at least on a small-town scale, to return to the days of the Polish People’s Republic.The sleepy little town has been taken over by a nightmare: instead of dinosaurs, relics of the all too recent past are emerging from every nook and cranny. They invade the life of the local society and – worse still - arouse rather mixed feelings. They disturb the layer of sentimentality, fond memories and nostalgia that still lies deep within each of us. Once the façade is back in place, it’s time for politics. In one of the funniest scenes the hero is forced to write a letter to the former First Secretary of the Communist Party; his insistence that the man is no longer alive utterly fails to get him off the hook. The letter is sent and, most bizarrely, gets an answer! Marek Sieprawski has written an extremely funny book, which, if we had such a thing as a normal print-run and distribution, would be a dead cert for a bestseller. It’s a long time since I’ve read such a charming, funny book, but which is also in its own way serious.
Marek Sieprawski (born 1968) is the author of short stories and a novel, The Day of the Wicked Clocks.