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(04/23/2008) Ashes And Diamonds by George Andrzeyevski. London. 1962. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Translated From The Polish By D. J. Welsh. keywords: Literature Translated Poland Eastern Europe. 239 pages. Jacket design by Harry Sida.

A tale of political factional intrigue in Poland following World War II.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   George Andrzeyevski's novel is set in Ostrowiec, a pleasant provincial town in Poland, during the few days in the spring of 1945 while the final surrender of the German armies is being negotiated. The war has ended at last, but not all of the inhabitants of Ostrowiec are rejoicing. Some belong to the new elite of Communist fanatics who will rule the country with the help of the Red Army; some think of nothing but escape to the West. A degenerate group cashes in on the confusion and makes fortunes out of the black market; a band of fanatical young idealists hides in the woods and assassinates One of the new leaders in the hope of breaking the Russian stranglehold; an even younger group of boys commits murder, steals money and buys guns without any very clear idea of their goal. Many are still searching for relatives who disappeared in the concentration camps; a former magistrate who collaborated with the Germans lives in terror of being denounced; and the young man chosen to assassinate the Party Secretary falls in love for the first time. People stroll in the square listening to the wireless announcements, bathe in the river, plot in dilapidated, overcrowded rooms, dance in the town's one good hotel, attend political meetings, eat, drink, quarrel, make love and sleep while their fate is being decided. This is a thrilling, complex and moving story of what life was really like in Poland during those fateful few days when the war came to an end and the Communist regime which is still in power today took over the country.

GEORGE ANDRZEYEVSKI was born in Warsaw in 1909 and has lived there all his life. His first book, a collection of short stories, appeared in 1936. Two years later his first novel won him two literary awards. Since the war Andrzeyevski's prolific output of novels, plays, short stories and articles has gained him a leading position among Polish writers, and his last novel to appear in English, The Inquisitors, was unanimously hailed by Polish critics as a major contribution to contemporary literature. The film version of ASHES AND DIAMONDS was awarded the International Critics' Prize at the Venice Film Festival of 1959, but the book has never before been translated into English.

 

 

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