In a comparative reading of Central European authors emigrating to the United States, I analyze the shifting role of the writer in the changing models of migrancy. World War II emigrations were often permanent, and the need to sustain contact with the old country as a repository of traditions turned the old country into a sacrosanct space. Writers were expected to support and reinforce the old country ethos. In post–World War II emigrations, including exiles repressed by communist regimes, a similar need is visible. Émigré writers were expected to assume the role of national bards, politically engaged in the cause of freedom for their compatriots. Reading authors who emigrated to the United States—Henryk Grynberg, Janusz Głowacki, and Dubravka Ugresić—I trace the development of what I propose to call the “cosmopolitical” agenda (a neologism linking cosmopolitanism with politics) in global migrant writing. The distinguishing feature of such cosmopolitical migrant writing from Central Europe is a particularly acerbic and language-driven sense of humor based on a self-deprecating, anarchistic attitude toward reality. They also offer subversive representations of the United States, where this space of freedom for an exile from a communist regime was also a space of oppression, repression, and silencing.

Co Słychać, Wszystko W Porządku; przecież serdecznie gawędzi ze mną, wśród tylu gości, ten świat, gospodarz przyjęcia, klepie mnie po ramieniu kordialnym pytaniem, poświęca How are you? Not bad; After all, he talks friendly with me, among all these guests, this world, the host 
chwilę cennego czasu, całkiem przy tym świadom, że wszystko, co odpowiem, i tak nie będzie mieć większej Patting me on the shoulder with a cordial question, sacrifices a bit of his precious time, yet fully aware all along 
wagi, że nie jest przyjęte, aby się zbytnio wywnętrzać w wymianie zdań ze znanymod tak niedawna światem, That anything I say won't be of any Import, that it does not pass to be too frank In sentence exchange with this world only just acquainted 
że zresztą, choćbym nawet chciał, i tak nie zdążę wyjść w tej krótkiej rozmowie poza I Jak Tam, Niezgorzej” That even if I wanted, I won't manage In this short conversation to get beyond How are you, Not too bad. 
“Small talk.” Nie moja bajka. “Small talk.” Not my piece of cake. 
Stanisław Barańczak, “Small Talk,” 19861 
Co Słychać, Wszystko W Porządku; przecież serdecznie gawędzi ze mną, wśród tylu gości, ten świat, gospodarz przyjęcia, klepie mnie po ramieniu kordialnym pytaniem, poświęca How are you? Not bad; After all, he talks friendly with me, among all these guests, this world, the host 
chwilę cennego czasu, całkiem przy tym świadom, że wszystko, co odpowiem, i tak nie będzie mieć większej Patting me on the shoulder with a cordial question, sacrifices a bit of his precious time, yet fully aware all along 
wagi, że nie jest przyjęte, aby się zbytnio wywnętrzać w wymianie zdań ze znanymod tak niedawna światem, That anything I say won't be of any Import, that it does not pass to be too frank In sentence exchange with this world only just acquainted 
że zresztą, choćbym nawet chciał, i tak nie zdążę wyjść w tej krótkiej rozmowie poza I Jak Tam, Niezgorzej” That even if I wanted, I won't manage In this short conversation to get beyond How are you, Not too bad. 
“Small talk.” Nie moja bajka. “Small talk.” Not my piece of cake. 
Stanisław Barańczak, “Small Talk,” 19861 

Émigré and Exile Writing: From the Nation to the World (and Back)

Emigration and exile were coterminous for many Central and Eastern European writers who made a transatlantic journey throughout most of the ninetheenth and twentieth centuries. Émigré writing tended to be burdened with the tasks of responding to national matters, of sustaining, cultivating, and developing the language and culture as endangered values, and remaining the emissaries of national causes. Much like most postcolonial migration writing, émigré literature from Central and Eastern Europe was more often than not inscribed in a geopolitical consciousness that forced the writer never to fail responding to national matters in their works. Diaspora audiences likewise expected writers to maintain a direct involvement in the cause of national freedom and brokered for it through their contact networks. Writers, especially writers in exile, were expected to become a sort of remote-control tool securing for the diaspora the sense of participation in the old country's life and to have an impact on the country's prospects, especially for sovereignty and other independence-related causes.

Authors and audiences, both in the old country and in diaspora, all had their own, often diverging or incommensurable, agendas, creating a very interesting case for the history and anthropology of literature and culture. In the case of Eastern and Central European authors who emigrated to the United States during World War II and after, and up until the collapse of communism, the autobiographical mode of émigré writing was instrumental in creating a cosmopolitical space emerging in this literary archive2 and engendered by the awareness that a migrant has to struggle for and create their place in the world, and that the process of claiming the place is always ineluctably political. This was a space of overlapping experiences of loss (of the old country), exile (being forced to emigrate as a consequence of political and social circumstances), finding one's feet in a new place and situation (which often entails also lowered social status), and, finally, writing as a process of observation, selection, and narration of events located in intersecting frameworks of local and broader than local contexts.

“Cosmopolitics” here is a hybrid term combining “cosmopolitanism” and “politics”—“politics,” because migration involves a multifaceted crossing of borders and a broader geopolitics of mobility within which migrants (especially exiles) must situate themselves; “cosmo,” because every border crossing is an act of cognitively and imaginatively mapping the world, opening oneself to it, learning and imagining it. Cosmopolitics developed by émigré writers would therefore be, most often, different from the cosmopolitanism we associate with the privilege of being in the world and knowing it, a sense rooted in the Enlightenment. Ulrich Beck suggests we study “chains of cosmopolitization.”3 In émigré autobiographical writing it is the United States that serves as the chief force of cosmopolitization, as state (including not only political agency but also administration and bureaucracy), urban culture (here especially New York as both Eden and hell for immigrants), the paragon of civic freedom, and the all-pervading spirit of economic liberalism. In all these key areas, the United States signifies for a migrant not only the promise of knowing and participating in the world, but also a threat of disappearing in the world, losing one's voice, or simply being ignored.

The history of literature in Poland tends to consider émigré writing, especially from World War II to 1989, as either directly exilic or strongly affiliated with exile concerns and discursive practices. One of the main features of exile writing was sustained dialogue with Poland: writing for the Polish audiences, creating strong literary and intellectual environments (associations, journals, publishing presses, and other opinion centers) abroad, and, most importantly, serving as a voice of freedom, hope, and direction for those left behind in the grip of the communist regime. Polish émigré writers in the twentieth century developed in several clearly differentiated waves. One wave of migration resulted from World War II; I include writers who left right before the war, like Witold Gombrowicz to Argentina, and those who left during the war, such as Kazimierz Wierzyński, Jan Lechoń, and Józef Wittlin. Another occurred as a post–World War II migration, including Czesław Miłosz, Jerzy Kosiński, Henryk Grynberg, or, for three years, Marek Hłasko. The third wave of emigration that left an imprint on the history of literature was a direct consequence of the introduction of martial law in Poland in 1981, with such authors as Stanisław Barańczak, Janusz Głowacki, and Edward Redliński emigrating to the United States. The World War II emigration, subsequently branded the “old emigration,” was sometimes not even a decade apart from the post–World War II wave, but the historical breach that defined it made its relation with post–World War II migrations characteristically strained. War exiles found it hard to accept later exiles who had a history of cooperating with the communist authorities. They considered publishing in Poland after the war as a form of collaboration with the regime, even if the work had no traces of praising the new system. In turn, the post–World War II émigré writers found it hard to accept war émigrés' stringent rejection of any contacts with postwar Poland and their lack of interest in anything not directly related to things Polish or their émigré circles. As Czesław Miłosz wrote to Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz about the poets Lechoń and Wierzyński in 1948,

I think both he and Wierzyński are tormented here [in the United States]. Lechoń considers this country the epitome of barrenness. What makes me wonder in their poems written here is the absolute intellectual estrangement from the whole world. Nothing attracts their interest here, they understand nothing, neither do they try to understand anything with some poetic sense, and what they have retained from Poland is only memories of youth, and a sentiment that is highly irritating and false for us from the country. This is unbelievably dead and antiquated.4

Miłosz's criticism of his war-exiled fellow writers in the United States signaled a deeper fundamental, ethical, and ideological divide. Whereas war émigrés assumed the role of independence fighters in exile, the postwar immigrants, themselves often barely survivors of the war and no friends of the communist regime, could not identify with their forebears' insurrectionary mobilization. Postwar émigré writing, still embroiled in disputes with national literary and cultural traditions and clearly antiregime, avoided overloading their works with national matter and pathos. They sought, rather, to explore the border spaces defining the émigré experience, especially contact zones in the diaspora, the process of translating oneself in America, and typical themes of the migrant experience, such as cultural contacts and the (un)translatability of language and experience. They reflected also on writing in spatial and geopolitical separation from the target audiences of the homeland (most émigré writers wrote in Polish and their readers were largely in Poland rather than among the diaspora population in the United States).

After 1989, émigré writing grounded in the experience of exile stopped holding the same appeal. Consequently, the émigré writer lost the position of a bard and public intellectual whose task was to keep the horizon of freedom clearly drawn. Critics started to talk about the “farewell to emigration”5 and the onset of post-émigré writing by Polish writers on emigration.6 After Poland joined the European Union in 2004, emigration to Western Europe, which tends to be devoid of the exilic element and less definitive even if emigrants have settled to live in the new country, created a new format in writing. It differs from earlier émigré writing of the past in one key feature: it has dropped the characteristic ethos of responding to the nation, writing for the national cause, and struggling with the gravity of history. In short, with the collapse of the communist regime and its system of censorship, coercive publication requirements, and straightforward publication bans, an émigré writer was no longer in an exilic situation and was free to cease their (often reluctant) responsibility to speak for the homeland cause and fulfill other expectations as the voice of the nation.

Post-émigré writing does not need to orient itself along the axis of “ojczyzna– obczyzna,” fatherland and the equivalent of strange or foreign land, respectively. Undertaking the task of representing the post-2004 migrants in Western Europe, the writers tend, rather, to locate their protagonists in a geopolitical vision of the world very similar to that in postcolonial migration literature. The bipolarity of the previous “oppressed motherland”/“free world” (with the United States as the chief carrier of the task of freeing the world) has been replaced by a “periphery” (or “semi-periphery”)/Western core axis. In more specific terms, new migrant writing often represents the tension between the “new” and “old” Europe.

The result of this shift has profoundly changed the geography of migrant thought in literature. The United States is no longer a significant space for migrant narratives. Some long-established writers would continue writing from their American locations, and these by all means count as émigré literature. Domestication or estrangement in America are recurrent themes, as are the nostalgia for and estrangement from Poland. Some would move back to Poland, like Nobel Prize–winning Czesław Miłosz and Adam Zagajewski.

In my discussion of the literary aspects of transatlantic migration, I will focus on tracing and analyzing a specific vision of the world developed in the post–World War II émigré writing by two authors in exile in the United States—Henryk Grynberg and Janusz Głowacki—before concluding with more recent exile writer Dubravka Ugresić (Croatian, but resisting the pressure to declare nationality as part of her identity). I consider these authors a small representative sample of Central and Eastern European voices on literary exile. For each, the context of exile is different. Henryk Grynberg is a Polish Jew writing in Polish and fluent in Yiddish, Russian, German, and English. He emigrated to the United States in 1967, blaming anti-Semitism for leaving his home country and the graves of his family. His continued preoccupation has been the fate of Polish Jews exiled by political and social anti-Semitism in postwar Poland, and the relative indifference of the world, and the United States more specifically, to the Holocaust. As a survivor and writer from the region, he traces the systematic irrelevance of “Second-World” voices, including the Jewish voices, in the space of American freedom. Janusz Głowacki was more or less Grynberg's peer. He was visiting London in December 1981 for the premiere of his play “Cinders” when martial law in Poland was introduced. He subsequently went to the United States, where he continued to write on émigré life, gaining wide critical recognition and enjoying commercial success with his plays. Dubravka Ugresić went into exile from war-riven Yugoslavia in 1993 and has since lived in the United States and the Netherlands. She has written on the traps of identity, its vulnerability to nationalist sentiment, and on migrant homelessness. As émigré authors and exiles, these writers reflect on their home countries and comment on the lot of their compatriot emigrants. They also share a common politics of literature premised on artistic freedom that, in the context of émigré writing, is especially irreverent toward the traditionally consecrated nation.

Of course, it would be a gross misrepresentation to posit that the audiences expected from émigré writers throughout the communist period only dignified pathos and some thinly veiled conservative, perhaps even nationalistic, message. Quite the opposite, attitudes of subversion, struggling with oppressive or antiquated traditions, a critical outlook on national matters at home and immigrant compatriots, frequently earned Głowacki, Grynberg, and other authors critical acclaim and a wide readership, not to mention international interest evidenced by translations. Nevertheless, a sensitivity about how “we” are represented by emigrant writers, “we” meaning readers in the home country and the immigrant population in the United States, is, I would claim, a distinctive feature of Central and Eastern European subalternity and sense of inferiority vis-à-vis stronger states and host societies. Therefore, a characteristic tone of ressentiment is predominant in most of these writings, often a self-Orientalizing or self-othering gaze. The audiences, in turn, often react with indignation at such “misrepresentations,” as they see them, which is itself a symptom of a migrant sense of inferiority acted out through idealization/idolization of the nation.

This largely nostalgic émigré strategy securing the sense of a “remote control” contact with the old country created this fundamental tension between writers and audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. As already stated, in the communist period most writers functioned as exiles and were expected to assume the role of national bards, speakers of forbidden truths, and to be politically engaged in the cause of freedom for their compatriots under communist regimes at home. Writers were under pressure to adjust their genres of writing and stylistic choices to national maters that were to be treated seriously7 and with due pathos. Predictably, many were not willing to allow the émigré community to wield symbolic power over their old country. Instead, writers pursued topics disliked by conservative émigré communities, such as menial and dirty jobs taken up by the immigrants from behind the Iron Curtain, many of whom were university graduates, or the criminal or bizarre urban enclaves that immigrant communities created, often feuding with other ethnic enclaves. Authors from (post)communist countries also engaged frequently with the problem of the relative invisibility, anonymity, and unimportance of Eastern and Central European writers stranded in the United States. These areas provided a rich resource for ironic and parodic representations.

The ethos of émigré writing above all defined the writer as one who has to give the word of nourishment for the freedom-starved nation. The “post” in “post-émigré literature” category loosens this determinism and makes room for a revision or even a rejection of the ethos of émigré writing. Of course, the “post” still binds the writer composing from the “outside.” The very theme of migration places the protagonist, the narrator, the author's voice, and so forth into a space limited by the polar ends of the old homeland and the new country/new homeland/place of (temporary) relocation. The migrant identity is a mobilized identity—it becomes an active agent in the life of a literary protagonist, regardless of their will. Migration literature, which combines the genres of internal migration, émigré, and post-émigré literature, proves the essential component of displacement (uprooting, resettlement) in late modernity on local, regional, and global levels simultaneously. As such, it represents a rich store of cognitive, affective, and imaginative models of being in a world in which, for a migrant, the word “place” does not by default connote belonging and home.

Henryk Grynberg: Refugee Cosmopolitics Against Universalism

Henryk Grynberg describes himself as a Jew, a Polish writer, and an American. The cohabitation of these components, especially the Jewish and Polish ones, is contentious. A war survivor and child of the Holocaust, he continues in his writing, almost always autobiographical, one major theme: his family's extermination during World War II, especially his father's murder by Polish neighbors, his toddler brother's death at the hands of the SS-Mann, and his own survival thanks to his mother's resilience.8 In this essay I will quote from his two autobiographical works, Uchodźcy (The Refugees) from 2004, and Ciąg dalszy (Continued) from 2008. He considers his writing an obligation of the survivor, explaining “I am a witness who testifies in my own name and in the name of those who cannot do it.”9 He weaves his life story into the bigger patterns of Polish Jews surviving the war, Polish-Jewish émigré lives, especially the generation of survivors who emigrated to the United States like him (e.g., Roman Polański, Jerzy Kosiński, and many others, often connected with the film industry), and Polish exiled writers. He refers to all of these subgroups as “refugees.” Grynberg bears a strong conviction of the untranslatability and incomprehensibility of each survivor's story; he frequently observes that the sense of mutual understanding is possible only among the survivors and, in his case, the most so among the children of the Holocaust. But he believes that writing is a process that warrants the transmission of memory, continues commemoration, delivers the complex affective states merging mourning and horror but also hope, and poses key questions about how to harmonize artistic truth with life truth in delivering a Holocaust story.

Ultimately, writing creates the space of difficult but necessary communication with the world that Grynberg develops as his own artistic and civic cosmopolitics, grounded in the protest against the universalization of the Holocaust: “The universalization, trivialization, and general blurring of the outline of the Holocaust that we see today on all sides can perhaps best be viewed as a kind of unconscious defense mechanism. For Christians, it is a defense against guilt; for Jews, against fear. In both cases, it is a way of avoiding the awful particularity of this event.”10 Reflecting on the history of the world's refusal to take action on the Holocaust, including America's and American Jews' refusal, Grynberg delineates his own cosmopolitics very clearly. It is premised on his resolution to expose and challenge pervasive anti-Semitism manifest not only in society, but also in the politics of appeasement that, as he notes, started with the refusal to receive Jewish refugees before World War II and continued with Allied indolence in taking action about the Holocaust and postwar mitigation strategies in the Middle East. He complements his anti-anti-Semitic mission of a witness with his anti-Soviet stance and issues a range of bitterly critical comments on U.S. failures (at the societal and governmental levels) and how easily American intellectuals surrendered to the imaginary allures of communism, as if they were blind to the violence of the Soviet regime as a global power. Anti-Semitism is in Grynberg's writings a pervasive force thriving on appeasement, and appeasement nurtures all forms of political violence. Hence his relentlessly critical attitude toward Jimmy Carter's (for whom he voted) intervention in Egyptian-Israeli negotiations and his politics toward the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc in general. This is all linked in Grynberg's vision of the fundamentally precarious condition of exiles and refugees, who always have to face the reality of their untransmissible experience and its relative insignificance for the world as such.

In the chapter “Centrum świata” [The center of the world], Grynberg quotes a conversation with his friend Victor Gilinsky, a physicist who landed a prominent position in the Atomic Energy Commission. Grynberg followed to Washington soon after to take up the job of an editor of the Polish version of a journal published by the U.S. Information Agency. The brief dialogue grasps their sense of making it despite all the odds: “‘Look where we are,’ he [Gilisnky] said, ‘at the center of everything, in the very brain where decisions are being made about the fate of the world. We, two Jewish boys from Poland.’ ‘Who were not supposed to live a long ago,’ I added.”11

But in fact, his work for American institutions asserts Grynberg's conviction that a refugee and exile—even though breathing in freedom in the United States, which he finds the necessary minimum condition for writing—has to accept a location on the margin. Grynberg considers his work for the journal Ameryka, as he does later for the Voice of America, a professional failure.12 He notes the complicated rules of a career track for public officials, whose meanderings bring Gogol to mind. Another absurdity involves the soft but pernicious mobbing by superior officers (also émigrés in both places) who, devoid of any possibility to act out their superior rank, launch petty office wars. Grynberg takes up the position after Zygmunt Haupt, another writer of renown, and he notes with amusement and admiration how Haupt, after cashing his first paycheck, took a bank loan and bought a horse (rather than a car or another marker of the American dream) since he had been a cavalry officer in Poland.

What is most painful and bemusing for a writer is that the Poles and Russians on the board, like in his subsequent employment at the Voice of America, are there only to translate American texts. The translating editors, Grynberg and his colleagues, have to negotiate between their own linguistic skills and the superior officers' editorial work, totally separated from live Polish and of no literary quality. This deficiency is not only a part of office wars but also results in ludicrousness in their absurd effects—for example, there is an order to erase any words of foreign origin, ending comically with substituting “onanism” with an old Polish word “samotrzeć.”13 The word can translate literally into English as “self-rubbing,” which Grynberg finds with his characteristically crisp but resigned irony to be a better option than the common “samogwałt” (self-rape), but he does not mention that his superior's idea is based on a false etymology, since “samotrzeć” is an old Polish word for a group of three. These texts, at any rate, are of no value to the readers, only the illustrations are, which, as Grynberg discovers, were occasionally stolen by Polish journals; he finds out that his journal's illustration of the rural American Midwest from 1969 was copied in 1972 by Perspektywy, a Warsaw weekly, to represent the magnificent development of Polish agriculture.

In Grynberg's account, the Voice of America, his place of employment until retirement, represents the politics of appeasement with two commandments: “blame America first” and tolerate communism in the best spirit of American pragmatism, because it pays both for liberal intellectuals and conservatives.14 Grynberg shows the dire consequences of appeasement politics. In one case the United States deported back to the Soviet Union a Lithuanian sailor who defected at the shores of New Orleans, although it was obvious he would be persecuted on return, sent to a gulag camp, and perish. “No one protested,” Gynberg explains, “because no one wanted to be identified as ‘anti-communist.’ This ugly epithet was used to stigmatize us, the backward outcasts from the East who did not keep up with history. It's possible that the silent majority15 thought otherwise, but it was silent.”16 Grynberg makes it clear that his and other Polish editors' work for the Voice of America was limited strictly to “translating from English and reading out through the microphone the news of the day, correspondence and press surveys delivered to us by Americans,” not authoring content themselves. “Indeed, we broadcast seven-minute-long weekly surveys of cultural, artistic, and science-technology events that passed as original, but they were compiled exclusively from adapted scripts of the central editorial board…. Our boss, Mr. M. W., was very careful not to let us speak a thought he could be held responsible for.”17

Occasionally the East European exiles on the Voice of America staff would be allowed to do an interview with a writer18 —Grynberg notes his regular speakers were Czesław Miłosz, Jan Karski, and Jerzy Kosiński. On one occasion he grabbed Susan Sontag after her return from a visit in Poland and directed an interview with her in such a way as to force her to speak the truth about the regime, which she wanted very much to wrap in the familiar decorum of not speaking critically of communism (“for the sake of sustaining contacts between Americans and Poles,” in her words19). Answering Grynberg's question whether she heard any complaints about censorship in Poland, Sontag at first denied that she had. She tried to deemphasize the obvious existence of censorship with a claim that American authors translated into Polish are beyond censorship's reach. But pressed on, she admits that it must be censorship at work if writers such as I. B. Singer are not published in Poland, not to mention Polish writers in exile in the United States, labeled in the Polish communist media as “ex-Polish.” She also admits being astonished at how extensively her interview with the official cultural journal Kultura was edited and snipped, even though she was trying to be “very cautious” not to say anything critical.20 In a transcript of an interview with Jerzy Kosiński, Grynberg allows the writer to defend himself against charges of plagiarism; Kosiński points out that the Village Voice article about him from July 1982 replicated and developed libels spun about him by Żołnierz Wolności in Poland,21 a propaganda newspaper, right when he openly criticized General Jaruzelski for introducing martial law. These and other interviews done by Grynberg for Voice of America showed very clearly how writers were enmeshed in larger geopolitics even when they thought they were speaking their own mind. It proved his point that a writer, at the time of the Cold War bipolarity, could not be apolitical or objective the way Susan Sontag was trying to be. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when they were openly political, as when Kosiński had been, politics would still catch them unawares. Without stating his own opinion, Grynberg wanted to show in interviews with these two writers that American intellectuals were vulnerable to manipulation by the communist propaganda from the Soviet Bloc.

Voice of America represents for Grynberg the same equivocality that he is critical of in Carter's overall politics of appeasement of political regimes, which, in the Middle East, develops “at the cost of Israel”22 and, in relations with communists, “blocked the development of tactical neutron weapons because it could give America an imminent advantage in Europe and irk Brezhnev. Who, by the way, did not care the least that we were irked by the Soviet army stationing in Afghanistan”23 and “advised the Maoists in Nepal to change the name … a wise idea, though not original, because in Poland communists had been hiding under other names for a long time already.”24 Carter's speech at the Ghetto Heroes memorial in Warsaw provides for Grynberg a punchline for Carter's strategy of mitigation by way of equivocality: “He said in English: ‘they stood alone fighting,’ and in Polish: ‘they fought on the front line.’”25

On a personal and general existential level, Grynberg finds that equivocality especially painful for a refugee survivor and exile writer. It blocks agency for those who are affected by it: it intervenes with publishing options, it resurfaces in the Voice of America manipulation of truth in issuing statements on the Katyń massacre of Polish officers by the USSR,26 and, most perniciously, it reinforces the overall expectation that the survivor will himself/herself adopt appeasement strategies for his own anger and mourning, but also, and most dangerously, for his own sense of commitment to facts and truth in writing as witnessing. The most acute example of the consequences of U.S. intellectuals' equivocality in matters concerning the Cold War, which itself affected also the Holocaust discourse, is the honorary degree granted to Grynberg by Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership in 2000. This invitation followed a prior invitation to speak at the Spertus exhibition dedicated to the children of the Holocaust. With the honorary degree, he was to join a line of famous recipients, such as Singer, Kosiński, and Wiesel (whom Grynberg blames for the Holocaust's universalization and rarefaction), and thus he anticipated the event with great joy. But it turned out to be far from what he expected, as he notes with bemusement: “I flew to Chicago, where no one picked me up from the airport, which is normal in America. No one invited me to dinner, which is not normal in America. Nobody picked me up from the hotel but I found my way easily…. The provost seemed very displeased and did not talk…. There was … only a white and black poncho and I was asked if I wanted to put it on. Of course I do, I said, because how often does someone from Radoszyna get an honorary degree?”27 He subsequently went to the auditorium, where he found out from “some refugees from 1968”28 who came to attend his lecture that his honorary degree was not announced to the large audience. The reticence of the hosts, verging on hostility, and the success of that evening for him as a writer left Grynberg with the unresolved riddle of the famous institution's ambivalent handling of the event.

In Uchodźcy (Refugees), Grynberg explores the profound incommensurability of the American left's belief in the Soviet Union (which they take, mistakenly as Grynberg notes intermittently, for the idealized vision of socialism) and the exiles and refugees from communist regimes in the United States. The American intellectuals' refusal to admit the imperialist grip of the Soviet Union over the Eastern Bloc countries, even after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Prague Spring in 1968, reinforces Grynberg's conviction that where one side invests in dreams (ideology included) and the other fares from reality, communication is not possible. Refugees and exiles from communism disrupted the narratives of the left's dreams because they stood for their possible future. This future was dystopian and had to be rejected from the horizon of possibility: “We hailed from a different time-zone: from the future. Which was still believed in here, even if with reservations. They still wanted to go where we had returned from, or escaped, already. We saw this future with our own eyes, but they did not believe us.”29

Reflecting on his graduate studies in the Slavic Department at UCLA, Grynberg represents this period as another exilic ambiguity of finding peace and elation in intellectual work, satisfaction in revisiting the familiar commonalities of Slavic languages, but also feeling an odd man out as Eastern European, a refugee from the communist regime. Russian predominated, but nobody minded, especially since Professor Isachenko, fluent in most Slavic languages, was the main attraction of the whole program until he was forced to leave the United States for not revealing that he had belonged to the party back in Czechoslovakia. For Grynberg this is an example of how refugees had to manage their precarious condition—belonging to the party in a communist state was, after all, required with most functions, especially at state institutions like a university, a form of coercion, for which a refugee was then punished in the United States. Student refugees and exiles like Grynberg developed a sense of estrangement typical of displaced natives. It is worth noticing that this peculiar effect of displacement, alienness, and sense of being misunderstood links Grynberg and other Eastern and Central European exile writers with postcolonial accounts of othering. Grynberg writes, “Slavs were not welcome at our Slavic Department. They knew words and designates too well; in general, they knew too much. Especially so the refugees who by their very presence made an advantageous cooperation with the other side difficult. As in Hollywood, one was not supposed to say anything unfavorable about Soviet Russia.”30 He notes with his characteristic understatement that Russian dissidents were also considered problematic, and that when one of them, Andrey Amalrik, published his famous essay in 1969, Просуществует ли Советский Союз до 1984 года?, subsequently translated into English, his reception in the United States was less than enthusiastic.31

Accounting for the specific revolutionary spirit of that time on campuses, Grynberg quotes a conversation with Roman Jakobson over dinner in which they talk about the traveling of words between languages. This account seems tangential amid the discussion of East Europeans' sense of deterritorialization in the Slavic Department, but it is of key significance. This apolitical conversation at the table reveals how important it was for the author to find common footing in the language as the shared space of Slavic mutuality. It grew from the sense of closeness of these languages and was enhanced by his sense of estrangement from the American campus spirit of revolution. These Eastern Europeans perceived the future American students dreamed of, instead, as the past they had known and escaped from. Commenting on a protest rally against U.S. military action in Cambodia in 1969, Grynberg asks: “Did they throw in at least a word that there was something wrong in Czechoslovakia as well? Of course they didn't!”32 For him, the protesters are naïve idealists manipulated by a handful of power-greedy politicians resembling all too well the party aparatchiks in communist regimes: “We, refugees from the future, knew them, because we caught them in the act of power more than once and we knew very well what they can do when they grab it, but we had never before felt so trapped.”33

A conviction that it is impossible to translate for the Americans (and for the West, as for example in Milan Kundera's writings), the experience of the communist regime and the logic and affect of exile is visible in many émigré accounts. There is freedom to speak and publish. For Grynberg, though, the invisible hand of appeasement makes American intellectual life uncannily similar to the strategy of self-censorship described in many dissident texts (starting from Miłosz's Captive Mind). The relevance of what the refugees would like to communicate is much more difficult to get through. Grynberg implies that this is the pressure of universalism—a refugee has to present a story that will be recognized as universal enough to merit attention. His story merits attention because he is the Holocaust child, a direct witness and fervent speaker for people like him and for the dead. But he does not see it as universal—he would prefer to keep the singularity of each Holocaust event, convinced that only in this way will the Holocaust, whose story goes beyond the time of World War II, be allowed to speak the truth. Consequently, only then will it be ready to open up for dialogue with other genocides, each needing its own singular story without resorting to the Holocaust master-metaphor. These cases are not mutually translatable, and only as such can they be relational, compared on the basis of their uniqueness, to render a complex perspective on modernity. Like many other émigrés and refugees, Grynberg speaks from the margin, and this marginal position gives him footing in his writing as a cosmopolitics of dissent.

Janusz Głowacki: How Eastern European Provincials Conquer the Metropolis

This is how Janusz Głowacki, an émigré to the United States from 1981, starts his autobiography, Z głowy [Off the top of my head]: “Ten days before [December 10, 1981] … driven by a desire of fame and fortune, I went to London to attend the premiere of my play, Cinders … in the Royal Court Theatre. I left behind strikes, negotiations, [militia] baton beatings and what seemed to me a much shaken power of communists.”34 The play was directed by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle. Waiting for the premiere, Głowacki became stranded in London on the announcement of martial law in Poland on December 13, 1981.

In his writings, Głowacki consistently uses his own idiom mixing irreverence, cynicism, and grotesque, the key combination to his success as playwright. In his autobiography he develops this self-mocking style with gusto, representing himself and other émigrés in the United States as Candides, hailing from behind the Iron Curtain, in deep awe of the West as an El Dorado and a source of inexhaustible opportunity, but also in despair for its crushing complexity, worldliness, and indifferent power. Surprised by the martial law, Głowacki finds himself in a new situation—of an author all of a sudden in the lime light of media attention in London, the reviews unequivocally underlining the play's antitotalitarian character, somewhat to his bemusement. The play has no political themes and its grotesque style, typical of Głowacki, is called “Kafkaesque” as a way of legitimating praise for an unknown author rather than because of any similarity to Kafka's style. He feels with some sense of the absurd that he becomes a spokesperson for his oppressed country, a role he would never aspire to: “thanks to general Jaruzelski's action [the martial law] and the harm inflicted on the Polish nation,35 I changed over a moment from an unknown provincial author into a total celebrity.”36 Głowacki remembers his interview on British television as doubly traumatic—he is trying to be patriotic and serious, quite against his style. He is also focused on not making errors in what he feels is his less-than-sufficient English, an anxiety of an émigré from provincial no-places that he will continuously experience: “I recited in a gloomy voice several sentences about the night falling over Poland, trying not to confuse the present tense with the past and she with he. The host shared the pain with me and when he recovered, he shook my hand manly and told me not to lose courage. It was not at all a problem for me, because I never had it in the first place.”37

Waiting for the recommencing of flight connections between Poland and Britain, Głowacki wonders whether to go back. In exile he would be able to write without censorship; back at home, martial law provides new and exciting topics. There, the writer has a special status of a heroic dissident, partly imposed by the audience, partly imagined, also by the audience. And this ideal writerly ego is in itself a great model to struggle and play with in Głowacki's predominantly self-mocking style. Additionally, the audiences at home are directly rewarding—keen on ascribing heroic dissidence to writers whether or not they had such intentions: “In the People's Republic of Poland we had extremely gratifying readers and viewers, efficient in finding [political] allusions even where there were none. It was enough to write that the protagonist is an alcoholic and a hunchback, plus he cheats on his wife, and nobody doubted that communism was to blame and the author would be getting a standing ovation.38” Not yet decided whether to go back or stay, Głowacki looks for work opportunities and notes the helpfulness of other Polish émigrés, who offer quite a range of employment options: waiter in a restaurant, erotic dancer for the English aristocracy, robber of a jeweler's shop, and smuggler of watches. At that time he also gets an offer from Bennington College in Vermont to teach Kafka, Chekhov, and Dostoyevsky: “After a long consideration and internal struggle, I chose the last option, even though it was financially the least attractive.”39

His first encounter with the U.S. administration brings, like for most Eastern European nationals, humiliation. The American consul is not in the least impressed by Głowacki's newly acquired dissident status and does not enthusiastically offer a visa to the writer. Instead, the consul is more interested during the two-hour interview in whether the writer plans on murdering the president and other such atrocities. Głowacki counters this humiliation with what we could call “sly civility”40—he humbly talks about his youthful dreams of having his play staged on Broadway. Głowacki writes that he was convinced that the United States would enthusiastically open the gates to refugees from the martial law, or from Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, both outspokenly condemned by the Reagan administration. But it turned out to be only the naivete of Eastern European provincials to expect the world's appreciation for their struggle. He learns that, exactly owing to this open critique, the United States performed tacitly the politics of making it difficult for Poles and Afghans to get a U.S. visa, for fear that they might indeed want to seek asylum.

This is how Głowacki describes the baggage he carried over to his émigré destination: “I had a set of indispensable things that any self-respecting professor from the East about to take up a position at a prestigious American university should have: the poor knowledge of English, two pairs of jeans bought at a discount in Portobello Road …, two cheap linen shirts … two half-liter bottles of vodka Wyborowa and a deep complex of the province masked with haughtiness and sense of superiority, plus a file of reviews from London.”41 He also recounts his fear that his well-established reputation as the local café writer, specializing in “golden youth”42 and playboys, will vanish into thin air: “The further I flew, the more I doubted whether I was going in the right direction and whether I was right barging in to democracy and America…. They don't suffer from lack of their own writers, and, additionally, New York is swarming with professional victims from countries oppressed by dictatorships. Not to mention the Russian dissident writers … will anyone lend sympathetic ear to my sufferings?”43 The anxiety of the fresh émigré that nobody will notice him in the crowds of refugee artists of renown is assuaged by a safe recourse to the Eastern European sense of provincial superiority: “I am, after all, going to a barbaric country. They don't even know there who Himilsbach is,44 and I felt immediately better.”45

Teaching at Bennington College was pleasant since it reinforced Głowacki's sense of being out of place, a situation that he turns into literary profit. He may not have a set of appropriate clothes for the Vermont winter, but he acts out his Eastern European dandy chic with a long leather coat that he bought with vodka currency from a film crew in Poland shooting a feature on Feliks Dzierżyński.46 It moves him deeply that Josif Brodski recognizes the KGB style and wants to buy his coat out of nostalgia. To strengthen his self-assertiveness, always lacking in an Eastern European provincial out in the big world, Głowacki refuses any meetings with top American authors he is invited to meet. He finds in time that ignoring these options was a big mistake, since networking is of key importance in the United States: “I had no idea back then that America will become my country. And that these writers I so successfully ignored would be priceless, because their recommendation here or there could mean this or that scholarship, or visa prolongation.”47 Starting to teach at Bennington, he wonders about how he is going to deliver the problems of Raskolnikov or Joseph K. to “the Rothschild's granddaughter, the daughter of the Shah of Iran and [female] inheritors of some smaller fortunes, interspersed with a few students from Kenya, Lithuania, or China, funded for fear of political correctness and to keep up the appearances.”48 He enjoys his experience very much, especially that his sense of provincialism has many occasions to clash with the students' worldliness—it takes him some time to realize why a female student asking him for a dollar at a party was irritated when he took out a handful of small change from his pocket, and why the desks of students' dorms are littered with shattered mirrors. Głowacki finds it especially difficult to explain to his mostly female, upper-middle class or outrageously rich and vaguely cosmopolitan students that in his part of the world, Kafka passes as a fairly realistic author, pointing to the untranslatability of cultures.

Race relations are especially baffling for the East European self-proclaimed provincial, and he notes with particular satisfaction the ambiguities of political correctness in accommodating both the genuine attempts at recognition and redress and the pure hypocrisy that covers up the pervasive lingering racism on campuses, in curricula, and in the streets. In a tone consistent with his short stories about émigrés from Eastern Europe, he notes how one such scandal backfired on his fellow Eastern Europeans migrants. When a New York City police commissioner announced in the early 1980s that 96% of crime in the city was committed by blacks, he was deemed racist even though he was black. Głowacki notes with satisfaction that not only communism poses irresolvable social paradoxes. The commissioner's blunder had grave consequences for the Eastern European homeless living seemingly happily in Tomkins Square Park. As they complain to their befriended writer, who subsequently turns them into protagonists of his stories, “we have become odd men out, because the police, to correct the statistics, detains every couple of hours the Polish-Ukrainian part of the park.”49 Głowacki lists other racial intricacies in the United States that an innocent provincial (always by implication tainted with a bit of racism, mixing an awe of blacks with fear) cannot crack, but he feels more free to laugh at them, not belonging to any side: “I am white, but with my immigrant's tone hidden until I open my mouth. That is why I feel insecure both with whites and blacks.”50 He admits in the end that the gap in wealth between white and black society is so profound and unjustifiable that it leaves little wonder that whites develop tokenistic strategies of upgrading the status of some black individuals. Nevertheless, this is not to bring about a systemic change, but to break the black population's ethnic solidarity out of pure fear of those who try to hide their sense of guilt.

Bearing in mind his fellow-émigré professor's remark that “contrary to the Polish students, who it takes at least six months to recognize that their professor is not a total idiot, it takes American students at least six months to realize that he is,”51 Głowacki gives up his position of the Kafka-cum-Dostoyevsky professor and goes to New York again to claim fame (and risk failure, which would, nevertheless, give him abundant material to write). Before fame comes, he describes with his unique masochistic self-mockery the time when he is trying desperately to convince producers in Broadway and off to stage any of his plays.

Throughout his autobiographical provocations, Głowacki is particularly keen on avoiding the slightest tone of self-righteousness as an exile. He admits that although the anxiety of never making it as an artist in the United States was overwhelming, he could easily go back to Poland—he was no major dissident despite publishing outside of the official presses, but it did not have to mean any particular oppression on returning: “I was no Adam Michnik, after all.”52 But there were two main reasons for not returning too soon: first, an émigré had to return with something, either money or fame, preferably both. Second, the propaganda press was relishing images of writers and intellectuals who failed to make it in the West and would have to return humbly to unappealing but cozy communism after the vogue for Polish dissident émigrés passes. Głowacki devotes a chapter to the lies that émigré artists tell each other to keep their fantasies of success in the United States alive. Everyone knows that these are lies, but nobody minds and the convention is to congratulate a colleague on his (these are mostly men) success, for example, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art or the Guggenheim. Głowacki replies in such situations, in line with the decorum, that, for example, Norman Mailer saw his short story in The New Yorker and instantly loved it.53 It is doubly ironic in his own case that what he represents as totally fantastic will become his reality—his plays will not only achieve commercial success but also get important awards. But his most precious keepsake of that time of continuous success is a review from the Washington Post summing up his Antigone in New York as “a barbaric Eastern-European attack on the Clinton administration,” speaking to the pervasive, if not really overt, fear of the invasion of utter strangers on the United States, a menacing role occasionally ascribed to Eastern Europeans.

Głowacki's time of actively waiting for fame is very productive. He makes further observations on his chief philosophical and existential dilemma of being an East European émigré in the United States, and in the metropolis of New York specifically—is provincialism a life-condition and can it be shaken off or at least hidden? The resilience of provincialism in the emigrant's condition gives him the most satisfaction. People from the East, Głowacki concludes, are always spotted and cannot hide their identity. “Maybe that we do not believe the least in what politicians say? And that trust is considered stupid? And that this sense of inferiority transforms into the sense of superiority, that those here do not know a thing because they were not kicked in the ass enough? Anyway, the Poles in New York become even more Polish than in Poland.”54

Drifting from couch to couch in one émigré's overcrowded apartment to another, Głowacki observes a double homelessness of the Polish immigrant in the American El Dorado, in which he joins a long line of postcolonial émigré narratives—the new home is nothing more than the cheapest way to rest between jobs (mostly dirty or otherwise menial), but the home left in Poland slips away, too, because families require ever more proof of the relative's success abroad. The old emigration generation is not particularly empathetic to the new one—quite the reverse. The new one is treated as a source of income for the old émigrés. Additionally, both old and new émigrés are contemptuous toward Puerto Ricans and the Arabs. He remembers gratefully his landlord in Manhattan, another émigré, making sure that the apartment he offers is good enough: “if I am not, of course, irritated by Puerto Rican rabble and if I don't mind that he is of Judaic denomination.”55 Głowacki observes that the common hardships of immigrants do not become a factor of transethnic solidarity. In the case of Eastern Europeans, their inferiority complex activates ethnic resentment and effectively blocks the path to multicultural awareness and openness. Émigrés work too hard, particularly women. Ultimately, they accumulate a lot of anger, not understanding the condition that they are entrapped in, and breed quite intense political ressentiment: “Everyone knows that something's wrong, that they work too hard, they earn too little, and Americans poke fun at them, that they speak English which nobody understands. They feel someone must be to blame but they don't know who, so … they put blame on Mayor Bloomberg, Kwaśniewski, Michnik, Bush, Kulczyk, and Colin Powell.”56

A call from Joseph Papp, interested in producing Cinders, gives Głowacki an opportunity to participate in the American culture of fame and celebrity and to get to know its fears and hypocrisies. First, he lists a long chain of people and connections that paved his way to Papp, going back to the Iowa International Writing Program coordinated by Paul Engle. Głowacki (like Ugresić and many other Easter European and world authors) had been a grantee of that program in 1976, and Paul Engle, who previously introduced Głowacki to many American authors, read Cinders and sent it to Arthur Miller. Miller became Głowacki's passport into the world of American show business. Apart from praising Głowacki's vodka-bribed KGB coat, Miller praised the play and initiated Głowacki in the arcane practices of Broadway: it makes no sense to send the play just to producers, because students reading them for $10 apiece reject the foreign names straightaway to make their buck quicker. So, Miller called Papp, who called Christopher Walken; John Madden, who had seen Cinders in London, wanted to direct it. The casting and production process was totally exotic to Głowacki, who saw with his own eyes how top actors were cut short, and how precarious, despite the starring names, the lot of his play would have been without Papp. Accounting for the tension of the premiere, Głowacki focuses on the Broadway style of collective response—nothing spontaneous and personal was issued before the first reviews came out, and out of a bunch of famous names at the post-premiere party, only “Irena Grudzińska mercifully approached me,”57 all the rest withholding any comments of their own before the New York Times judgment is passed. The review, being very positive and revelatory, Głowacki notices with somewhat cynical satisfaction, opened the door to the play's success and further productions both on stage and film.58 The success of another of his plays, Hunting Cockroaches, directed by Arthur Penn, was likewise sealed only after a “rave review.” Głowacki writes about the power of reviewers translating into solid money for producers: “A day after the review right to the very end tickets were not to be had. The premiere was attended by Arthur Miller, Woody Allen, Susan Sontag, Mike Nichols, Sidney Lumet, so not bad.”59 The reactions of Polish Americans provide a telling coda to the story of Głowacki's émigré life and art, and are typical of the divide between the established “Polonia” and those who look at it from a distance with their writer's long-sighted acuity: “After the Chicago premiere in the great American Wisdom Bridge Theater … someone wrote in the Polonia press that ‘too much Polish blood and sweat has soaked into the American soil for Głowacki's characters to be so badly dressed,’”60 which obviously only asserted for Głowacki that his pursuits are just right.

Conclusion: The Migrant Cosmopolitics of Global Reconciliation

In a different style but with a characteristic propensity to understatement, Głowacki shares with Grynberg the critical cosmopolitical force of émigré, off-center writers aware that their provincial Eastern Europeanness is an unpredictable card dealt by the fate of geopolitics. Migrants are usually studied in the context of diasporas they are part of and of the collective identities they negotiate between the old and new home. Postcolonial studies provides a huge archive of this research. However, focusing almost exclusively on identity issues, it tends to limit migrant experience to the struggle for recognition in the process of settling down, or to related problems of fitting in, and losing and gaining in translation, as the most traveled metaphor would have it. While this is all interesting and necessary, migrant experience in literature provides an invaluable resource of world imaginaries that are ready-made cosmopolitical projects made up of life-stories of border crossing, survival, risk, exile, and a whole spectrum of affective states from humiliation to triumph. Resisting universalism, meaning an abstraction with which no one identifies, these narratives create the human as singular, even if repeating and recurring, phenomenon. The autobiographical writing by Eastern European authors who emigrated to the United States in various stages of world politics shows how émigré lives are themselves agents of genuine cosmopolitics. Even, or perhaps especially, the homeless trying to bury their pal's body in Potter's Field (as in Głowacki's Antigone in New York) cannot go without it and have to create it by themselves in their struggle for survival in emigration.

In the recurring migrant narrative pattern, even if the migrant feels confined to the marginal space of surplus, invisible, or otherwise discarded subalterns, a discourse of transnational cosmopolitics develops consistently. We are not talking here about how the protagonists of migration writing are seduced by the charms of multiculturalism, but how they surrender to the inevitable processes of hybridization and creolization, even if they succumb to migrant patriotism, manifested mostly as culinary nostalgia and national pride in vaguely historical events that function as myths. The perspective of the émigré writer—from the liminal space of being neither in the home country nor among the diaspora, often irreverent of the pathos with which the nation is represented and indeed idolized by diaspora communities—serves to interrogate what migration mobilizes so forcefully, namely, an identity based on the national myths of victimhood and insurrectional ethos.

Dubravka Ugresić, a refugee from 1990s Yugoslavia and, before that, a participant in the same Iowa Writing Program as Janusz Głowacki, refuses to admit to a national identity, variably calling herself Balkan and Dutch and American, finding that fixed labels limit her personal and artistic freedom. Ugresić, like Głowacki and Grynberg, is a lover of New York as the world metropolis of contrasts. In one of her most powerful essays from the 2007 collection Nobody' Home, she turns the preponderance of Vietnamese nail salons she observes in New York into a global metaphor of human conviviality disseminated by migrants. That vision renders national identity an obsolete and antiquated project because it is more evocative in its symbolic appeal than nation, always already fossilizing for the migrant. It will have to give way to the new, mysterious ritual of fingernail grooming, whose message seems to be as obscure as it is prophetic:

A Vietnamese man and a Mexican woman, on Second Avenue in New York. The two stretched fingertips to each other, touching like two aliens. I thought about how people burrow, vine-like, making secret passageways all over the surface of the earth. Unstoppable, unflagging … how they appear suddenly in one spot like mysterious messengers, masked as promoters of small and at first glance meaningless skills such as grooming fingernails…. Just as the whole world rushed headlong to read the symbolism of the terrorist attack on America, I have the right to approach global symbolism from another end, from the vantage point of reconciliatory, the ‘hedonistic’—from the nails salon.61


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the “New Perspectives on Central European and Transatlantic Migration, 1800-2000” conference, hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies at Central European University and the Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies, March 8-10, 2018, in Budapest, Hungary.


Stanisław Barańczak, “Small Talk,” Wiersze zebrane (Kraków: A5, 2014), 309. (Atlantyda i inne wiersze z lat 1981–1985. If not otherwise specified, all translations are by the author.


For migrant writing as cosmopolitics, see Bishnupriya Ghosh, When Borne Across: Literary Cosmopolitics in the Contemporary Indian Novel (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2004). For a discussion of cosmopolitics as a response to cosmopolitanism in philosophical thought, see Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins, eds., Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998).


Ulrich Beck, “Mobility and the Cosmopolitan Perspective,” in Tracing Mobilities: Towards a Cosmopolitan Perspective, ed. Weert Canzler, Vincent Kaufmann, and Sven Kesselring (London: Routledge, 2016), 31.


Letter quoted in Beata Dorosz, “Czesław Miłosz w kręgu Polskiego Instytutu Naukowego w Nowym Jorku,” Archiwum Emigracji (UMK: Toruń, 2011).


Jerzy Jarzębski, Pożegnanie z emigracją: o powojennej prozie polskiej (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1998).


Małgorzata Zduniak-Wiktorowicz, Współczesny polski pisarz w Niemczech: doświadczenie, tożsamość, narracja (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2010).


Ryszard K. Przybylski, “Small Talk,” Przestrzenie Teorii 26 (2016): 176.


For a selection of Henryk Grynberg's prose writing, see: Żydowska wojna (Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1965) (Child of the Shadows [London: Vallentine, Mitchell, 1969]); Zwycięstwo (Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1969) (The Victory [Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1993]); Życie ideologiczne (London: Polonia Book Fund, 1975); Życie osobiste (London: Polonia Book Fund, 1979); Życie codzienne i artystyczne (Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1980); Prawda nieartystyczna (Berlin: Wydawnictwo Archipelag, 1984); Dzieci Syjonu (Warsaw: Karta, 1994) (Children of Zion [Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1994]); Uchodźcy (Warsaw: Świat Książki, 2004); Kalifornijski kadisz (Warsaw: Świat Książki, 2005); Janek i Maria (Warsaw: Świat Książki, 2006); Ciąg dalszy (Warsaw: Świat Książki, 2008).


Grynberg, Ciąg dalszy, 371.


Henryk Grynberg, “Appropriating the Holocaust,” Commentary (November 1, 1982), n.p.


Grynberg, Ciąg dalszy, 124.


Grynberg gives the journal title in passing in Uchodźcy, and in Ciąg dalszy he does not even mention the title, underlining in this way the total irrelevance of it and, subsequently, his work as editor/translator.


Grynberg, Ciąg dalszy, 127.


Ibid., 137.


Grynberg uses this phrase in English to make a connection with the Holocaust studies where it comes from.


Grynberg, Ciąg dalszy, 137.


Ibid., 138.


Embarrassed by the level of translations often edited by superior officers with no writing skills, Grynberg broadcast under a pseudonym, occasionally quoting in his cultural program from “a Polish writer and poet living in the US, Henryk Grynberg.” Grynberg, Ciąg dalszy, 140.


Ibid., 268.


Ibid., 268.


In the case of The Painted Bird, Kosiński was accused of having his work, possibly written in Polish, translated and published as originally written in English; in the case of Being There, the charge of plagiarism concerned the claim that Kosiński used the plot pattern from the prewar bestselling novel Kariera Nikodema Dyzmy by Dołęga-Mostowicz. The latter charge was totally unfounded. The topic deserves a separate discussion; see for example the New York Times defense of the writer from 1982, http://www.nytimes.com/1982/11/07/books/17-years-of-ideological-attack-on-a-cultural-target.html?pagewanted=all, and The Washington Post comment on the Village Voice allegations, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/entertainment/books/1982/07/11/wounding-of-jerzy-kosinski/f35565ab-8721-4c96-acd8-f0ac2c1fe65a/?utm_term=.4a836fd10901.


Grynberg, Ciąg dalszy, 135.


Ibid., 134.


Ibid., 135.




Grynberg gives a detailed account of how the broadcasters identified the Nazis as perpetrators, thus replicating the communist propaganda lie.


Grynberg, Ciąg dalszy, 241–42.


Polish Jews who were forced to emigrate as a result of anti-Semitic purges in the communist party in 1968, especially after violent handling of student protests against censorship in March 1968.


Henryk Grynberg, Uchodźcy (Warsaw: Świat Książki, 2004), 135.


Ibid., 224.


Ibid., 225.


Ibid., 229.




Janusz Głowacki, Z głowy (Warsaw: Świat Książki, 2004), 5.


This clause should not be read literally; this is how Głowacki mocks the pathos of the accounts of the martial law in 1981, both in the West and in Polish “second circulation”—underground, independent, samizdat—media.


Głowacki, Z głowy, 7.


Ibid., 9.


Ibid., 13. Głowacki notes here a massive phenomenon of dissident mobilization of the society that is so intense that the most innocuous fragments in literature, film, and theatre would gain a strong political undertone. The phenomenon of double-coding owing to censorship interventions enhanced the audiences' expectation that every cultural text is a subversive political act.


Ibid., 15.


Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), 99.


Głowacki, Z głowy, 16.


In the Polish context, the phrase meant young people who evaded employment and still had money.


Głowacki, Z głowy, 17.


Jan Himilsbach, a Polish amateur actor and, occasionally, prose writer, played characteristic comic roles of mostly picturesque Lumpenproletariat idlers.


Głowacki, Z głowy, 19.


Feliks Dzierżyński [Felix Dzierzhinsky], 1877–1926, from Polish-Lithuanian nobility, was the founder of the Soviet security system, the Cheka, and the OGPU.


Głowacki, Z głowy, 65–66.


Ibid., 67.


Ibid., 68.


Ibid., 69.


Ibid., 58.


Ibid., 48.


Ibid., 49.


Ibid., 73.


Ibid., 84.


Ibid., 75.


Ibid., 103.


Janusz Głowacki's plays staged in the United States include Cinders, trans. from the Polish by Christina Paul and produced at the Royal Court Theatre (1981) in London, where it was directed by Danny Boyl, and at the New York Public Theatre (1984), where it was directed by John Madden; Hunting Cockroaches, trans. from the Polish by Jadwiga Kosicka and produced in America first at the Manhattan Theatre Club, where it was directed by Arthur Penn; Fortinbras Gets Drunk, trans. from the Polish by Jadwiga Kosicka, Joan Torres, and Konrad Brodzinski and produced in America first at the Fountainhead Theatre Los Angeles (1990); Antigone in New York, trans. from the Polish by Janusz Glowacki and Joan Torres and produced at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., where it was directed by Larry Maslon (1993). See the bibliography after the author's webpage at http://www.januszglowacki.com.


Głowacki, Z głowy, 155.


Ibid., 156.


Dubravka Ugresić, Nobody's Home: Essays, trans. by Ellen Elias-Bursać (London: Telegram, 2007), 158–591.

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