The narrator and hero of Piotr Czerwiński’s novel speaks for himself, and also on behalf of the generation of Poles born in the early 1970s, who entered adult life in the first half of the 1990s. The narrator is convinced that this generation, of which he is a member, is separated from the rest, on the principle that it is a lost generation, dishonoured (hence the book’s title) more brutally and on a larger scale than any other Why? Because they did not play a direct role in the change of regime, because they unquestioningly accepted the rules in force in the modern world of predatory capitalism, and because they did not demand their dues loudly enough. The paths of promotion are blocked too, in the media, for example, where the hero is professionally involved. To survive on the job market, a journalist has to pretend to be a blunt, obedient tool for his bosses to use freely (i.e. unethically). The hero has had enough – he wants to break away from his current situation. We first meet him at the point when he decides to take this turn in life. This crucial moment prompts him to reflect and take stock of his life. And so we accompany him into the past, into the final years of socialist Poland, the martial law period and the 1980s, here evoked with genuine nostalgia. Dishonour consists mainly of flashbacks, a series of events that are as individual and unrepeatable, set within the hero’s life story, as typical, made up of the experience of a generation. Pugnacious and provocative, this novel is written in lively language, vulgar in places, and full of youth jargon.
Piotr Czerwiński (born 1972) is a journalist and feature writer. Dishonour is his first novel.