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Andrzej Stasiuk

On the Road to Babadag - Novel

Original Polish title: Jadąc do Babadag, published in 2004 by Czarne
(German title: Unterwegs nach Babadag)
ca. 300 pages
Clothbound
2005
Andrzej Stasiuk
Foto: Andrzej Stasiuk
© Brigitte Friedrich

Andrzej Stasiuk, born 1960 in Warsaw and raised there, lives in the Beskides since the year of 1986. He writes poems, stories, novels, also works as a journalist and script author and together with his wife Monika Sznajderman directs the publishing house Czarne located in Wolowiec. He has received numerous literary awards, among them the Samuel Bogumil Linde Prize for Literature (2002), the Nike Prize (Poland, 2005) for On The Road to Babadag, the Adalbert Stifter Prize (2005), the Vilenica Prize and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (2016).

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USA (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Spanish world rights (Quaderns Crema/El Acantilado), Chinese simplex rights (Guangdong Flower City Publishing House), Sweden (Ersatz); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: UK (Harvill Secker), Russia (NLO), France (Christian Bourgois), Italy (Bompiani), Netherlands (De Geus), Finland (Like), Hungary (Magvetö), Bulgaria (Paradox), Romania (RAO), Lithuania (Kitos Knygos), Croatia (Fraktura), Serbia (Dereta), Slovenia (Beletrina), Albania (Mesonjetorja)

About

Herds of cows on a stretch of rail tracks beyond Oradea, sheep on a suburban street in Satu Mare, a white horse grazing in the middle of Suceava – the dirtiest, remotest, most god-forsaken part of our continent is inhabited by animals. In the endlessness of rusting warehouses, in the shadow of vast chimneys and between swaying trucks, they pluck at poisoned grass without a hint of worry or interest. As if they had been grazing there since time immemorial.

Andrzej Stasiuk’s literary reports from Albania, Moldavia, Rumania, Ukraine, Hungary and Slovakia are peppered with sequences that could have come from a Buñuel or Fellini film. When he returns he can hardly believe that he has really been there, that he did not simply dream it all – the bunkers, the satellite dishes and UNO flags, the grass-covered steps, the villages in the Danube delta slowly sinking into the water, the little town where the children are born tired.

Babadag is the name of one of the towns he travels through between the Baltic coast and the Black Sea. One of those »weak regions« that disappear as soon as you turn your back on them. A panicky feeling that, along with their inhabitants, they could cease to exist if he did not describe them spurns him on. And Stasiuk’s new, maybe his most beautiful book about a world beyond the Dukla pass is the product of a lover’s fear, the fear of loss.

Praise

»Stasiuk writes beautiful sentences, pure and simple. And he writes in a breathless, stream-of-consciousness style that channels Jack Kerouac, from whose classic work the book’s title echoes […] This is not a typical sprightly travelogue, filled with charming villages and interesting strangers met on trains. It’s an impressionistic journey through the bleakness of post-Communist Eastern Europe: dark, chaotic, corrupt, yet defiantly resilient. […] On the road to Babadag is, at times, angry, funny, charming and depressing. If there is beauty in bleakness, Stasiuk has found it.« Jim Anderson, Star Tribune

»On the road to Babadag has great humor and a wonderful loopiness. Stasiuk shows what life is like when the stakes are so low the rest of the world regularly overlooks you.« Jessa Crispin, National Public Radio

»A eulogy for the old Europe, the Europe both in and out of time, the Europe now lost in the folds of the map […]« James Hopkin, The Guardian

Other publications

Dojczland/Dojczland (2008)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Christian Bourgois), Romania (RAO)

Fado/Fado (2008)

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Slovenia (Cankarjeva založba); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: English world rights (Dalkey Archive), France (Christian Bourgois), Romania (RAO), Ukraine (Grani-T)

Mein Europa/My Europe (2004)

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Spanish world rights (Quaderns Crema/El Acantilado), Italy (print edition Mimesis / digital edition GoWare), Hungary (Kijarat), Bulgaria (Lektura), Romania (Polirom); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Noir sur Blanc), Croatia (Fraktura)

Galizische Geschichten/Galician Tales (2002)

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Spanish world rights (Acantilado), Serbia (Heliks), Ukraine (Old Lion); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: France (Christian Bourgois), Netherlands (De Geus), Slovakia (Slovart), Bulgaria (Paradox), Slovenia (Cankarjeva Zalozba), India (Hindi; Rajkamal Prakashan)

Neun/Nine (2002)

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USA (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), UK (Harvill), Spanish world rights (Acantilado), Italy (Giunti); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Russia (Azbooka), France (Christian Bourgois), Netherlands (De Geus), Sweden (print rights; Norstedts), Sweden (digital rights; Ersatz), Slovenia (Beletrina), Hungary (Magvetö), Bulgaria (Paradox), Romania (RAO), Croatia (Fraktura), Serbia (Booka)

Wie ich Schriftsteller wurde/How I Became a Writer (2001)

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France (Actes Sud), Hungary (Poket), Ukraine (Discursus); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Czech Republic (Prostor), Romania (Paralela)

Die Welt hinter Dukla/Dukla (2000)

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English world rights (Dalkey Archive), Spanish world rights (Acantilado), Slovenia (Beletrina); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Russia (NLO), France (Christian Bourgois), Italy (Bompiani), Sweden (print rights; Norstedts), Sweden (digital rights; Ersatz), Norway (Aschehoug), Slovakia (Baum), Hungary (Magvetö)