Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Friday, October 6, 2017

Polish (Ed) Poland Rooted in Canadian Fiction edited by Kasia Jaronczyk and Malgortza Nowaczyk, 2017)

In The collage are, from The TOP left, Kaisa Jaronczyk, then Anna Milduchawsks, Zoe Greenberg, and at the right Anna Mioduchowska

I just finished reading a brand new collection of short stories ,Polish (Ed) Poland Rooted in Canada, edited by Kasia Jaronczyk and Malgortza Nowaczyk.  All of the stories deal with the Immigration of persons from Poland to Canada.

This is the first Polish diaspora collection published in Canada.  There are twelve stories, about an equal mix of men and women.  Some of The writers settled in The big cities, others in rural areas.  All struggled with a new language, some are great successes, others struggle to get by.

“We have found a wonderful community of writers who, although they write in different styles and on different subjects, support each other and are proud to represent Poland on the Canadian literary map. We have received an astonishing number of submissions, many more that we were able to accept. In the process we have discovered emerging and established Canadian authors Edited by Kasia Jaronczyk and Małgorzata Nowaczyk [xi] who include being Polish as part of their identity.”  From The introduction

I will post briefly on four of the stories, each one giving the reader a perspective about life experiences of Polish immigrants to Canada.

Iceburg” by Aga Maksimowska at first seems to have nothing to do with being an immigrant.   The woman this story centers on is not at all obviously an immigrant, her language gives nothing away, her appearance neither does.  Sometimes an immigrant can only be at once recognized by a countrymen, PR in this case by another woman from Poland.  The central character is having an Affair with a married man.  When he is hurt, the attending nurse at the hospital at first refuses her access then everything changed when the nurse realized they were both Polish.

“I say my name and she shoots me a look of recognition and glances down at her nametag, her own first name full of consonants. She smiles and tells me the Bruns are on the seventh floor, in Imaging. Why do I only now think of how strange it is that Dianne never changed her last name back? Olivier would say that’s because Milosevic is a mouthful, and that he’s been convicted of war crimes. And I would agree that it would be unfortunate to share a surname with a genocidal maniac.”

The two women have a link that bonds them, in a last names difficult to others

Aga Maksimowska emigrated from Poland in 1988. She studied Journalism at Ryerson University and Education at the University of Toronto. In 2010, she completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph. Her debut novel, GIANT (Pedlar Press) was a Toronto Book Award finalist and a CBC Readers' Choice Top 5 book in 2012. Aga's short fiction and nonfiction has been published in print and online in Canada and Australia, most notably in Rhubarb Magazine, Soliloquies Anthology, The Globe and Mail, and Kurungabaa. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters, where she is teaching high-school English and working on her second novel.. from the author’s webpage

“A Temporary Pinprick” by Anna Mioduchowska centers on a woman, Ziutta, now fiftysix, who immigrated from Warsaw to Hudson Bay Canada twenty years ago, during a time unrest.  Friends advised her the Canadian winters were harsher than the Polish so she had made before she left, paying a bribe to get the fleece, a very warm jacket.  She is still wearing it today.  We are not told a lot about her life in Canada, she has a Family and works long hours in a garmet factory.  She wonders why everything is “on her”.  Her life is very well comveyed.  We sense her struggle.

Anna Mioduchowska, born in Poland, came to Canada in 1961 and has lived in the lovely city of Edmonton ever since. She started writing stories about 12 years ago.  Active in Edmonton's literary community from the moment she began writing, she is completing a two-year stint as President of the Stroll of Poets Society.
She has a B.A. (1969) and a B.Ed. (1979) from the University of Alberta. She received a Diplome de Langue et Lettres Françaises from d'Universite d'Aix-Marseille in 1970. Course work towards an MA in Comparative Literature, University of Alberta 

“The God of Baby Birds”  by Zoe C. Greenberg is set in Beilsk, Poland, is the story of the friendship of two young girls during the early 1960s, when the country is dominated by the People’s Workers Party.  Their fathers are engineers on the same project.  One of the girls is Jewish and in the anti-Semitic climate of the times this puts a cloud over the families relationship to each other.  There is one side benefit to being Jewish.  The party has ordered all Jews out of the country, hence only Jewish engineers can get visas to Canada.  There is a very interesting surprise as the story closes, I will leave it untold.  The relationship between the two girls was very subtly done, especially showing how anti-Semitism impacted their relationship. 

Poet and actor Zoe C. Greenberg’s experimental films have been shown in New York, Dublin, and St. Petersburg. She lives in Montreal with her husband, a painter, and their son.

“Lessons in Translation” by Kasia Jaroncsyk is perhaps my favourite story in the collection.  It begins, I think, in 1945 when the Communist Party comes to power in Poland.  The narrator, a  late teenage woman,  of the story lives with her affluent family.  Her fsther’s textile Family is seized by soldiers, their servants steal anything of value.  The Family, used to a life of comfort, is sent to labor in Siberia.  The narrator works for a Russian Family in exchange for Russian lessons.  From Siberia she and her parents are taken Tanganyika, now The Congo.  She learns Swahili, has a mixed race Child and ultimately from there moves to Canada, she does not want her Child kidnapped by his father.  In Canada she becomes a government interpertator, translating between Canadian officials and new immigrants.  She alsa reflects in a very interesting way about the meaning of the act of translation.

Kasia came to Canada from Poland in 1992 in her teens. She now lives in Guelph, Ontario, Canada with her husband, two children and two cats.
She has published poetry, short stories, and reviews in The Bristol Prize Anthology, The Prairie Journal, Room, Carousel Magazine, The Nashwaak Review, and Postscripts to Darkness. Her work won first place in the Eden Mills Contest in 2010; second place in the GritLit Hamilton festival in 2015; and was longlisted for the CBC Radio Short Story contest in 2010. She has co-edited an anthology of Polish-Canadian short stories (Guernica Editions, forthcoming 2017), and has written a collection of short stories, Lemons (Mansfield Press, forthcoming 2017).
She is currently working on a novel that features the art world, manipulative muses, controlling doctors, psychiatric photography and hysteria.

This is a very worth reading  collection.  I strongly endorse it to all Canadian libraries.  

Mel u

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