Northern Illinois University Press

Beautiful Twentysomethings

Marek  Hlasko

Ross  Ufberg

“A self-taught writer with an uncanny gift for narrative and dialogue … [Hlasko was] a born rebel and troublemaker of immense charm.”—Roman Polanski

“Marek Hlasko … lived through what he wrote and died of an overdose of solitude and not enough love.”—Jerzy Kosinki

“Spokesman for those who were angry and beat … turbulent, temperamental, and tortured.”—New York Times

Marek Hlasko's autobiography is a vivid first-hand account of a young writer in 1950s Poland and a fascinating portrait of a short-lived rebel generation. Hlasko made his debut in 1956. His memoir recounts how he ran afoul of the Polish authorities in 1958 while on an official trip to Paris, after publishing an anticommunist novel in the émigré journal Kultura. Stripped of his Polish citizenship, he became a literary nomad from that point on, living the life of a vagabond in various places including Israel, the United States, and Germany, where he was mysteriously found dead in 1969. He was 35.

Hlasko's memoir has a breezy style, with one tale rapidly following the next. Told in a voice suffused with grit and black humor, Hlasko's memoir is a classic of its time. He describes his relationships with such giants of Polish culture as filmmaker Roman Polanski, novelist Jerzy Andrzejewski, poet Wladyslaw Broniewski, and essayist Kazimierz Brandys, to name a few. Hlasko also worked as a screenwriter, and his memoir provides a valuable glimpse into how markedly the medium of film affected him from his earliest writing days. His work in Hollywood, and a remarkable resemblance to James Dean, helped make him a poster boy for post-war Polish literature.

This is the first time Hlasko's explosive memoir has been translated into English. It gives Western readers a rare chance to read the life story of a true literary rebel, a writer whose work has been likened to that of Beat writers Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. Hlasko was an amazing talent who lived on the edge, died young, and left behind a razor-sharp body of work that has become an inspiration to those of his generation and beyond.

Oct. (2013) 224 pp., 10 illus
19.95t cloth 978-0-87580-697-6

Ross Ufberg, a PhD candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Columbia University, is the translator and editor, with Yakov Klots, of Memoir of a Gulag Actress, by Tamara Petkevich. He is co-founder of New Vessel Press.

Table of Contents

An Introduction to Mark Hlasko—Jaroslaw Anders
Preface—by Ross Ufberg
Beautiful Twentysomethings

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ISBN: 9780875806976
paper $19.95