In Greg's childhood memories of rural Poland, people go about their lives simply, with the effects of the communist regime glinting darkly just below the surface of the day-to-day. Greg writes with elegance, wit, and mischeiviousness. Totally charming, totally thought-provoking, a political commentary in an innocuous, lilting guise.— Laurel
September 2017 Indie Next List
“In Swallowing Mercury, nuanced gestures, drop-dead metaphors, and indelible observations coalesce in a series of short, adolescent episodes from 1980s Poland. English-speaking readers possessing no knowledge of the political climate and history of the time, fear not, for Greg's primary concern is one of universality, as many scenes take on that unmistakable relatability of childhood. Stories of high jinks, first love, familial absurdity, and (inevitably) death are the basis of these vignettes, while an excellent note from translator Eliza Marciniak contextualizes the book within the wider world.”
— John Gibbs (W), Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, CA
Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize
"Achieves a form of literary alchemy that mesmerizes."--The New York Times
In this celebrated debut from prize-winning poet Wioletta Greg, Wiola looks back on her youth in a close-knit, agricultural community in 1980s Poland. Her memories are precise, intense, distinctive, sensual: a playfulness and whimsy rise up in the gossip of the village women, rumored visits from the Pope, and the locked room in the dressmaker's house, while political unrest and predatory men cast shadows across this bright portrait. In prose that sparkles with a poet's touch, Wioletta Greg's debut animates the strange wonders of growing up.
About the Author
WIOLETTA GREG is a Polish writer; she was born in a small village in 1974 in the Jurassic Highland of Poland. In 2006, she left Poland and moved to the UK. Between 1998-2012 she published six poetry volumes, as well as a novel, Swallowing Mercury, which spans her childhood and her experience of growing up in Communist Poland. Her short stories and poems have been published in Asymptote, the Guardian, Litro Magazine, Poetry Wales, Wasafiri, and The White Review. Her works have been translated into English, Catalan, French, Spanish, and Welsh.ELIZA MARCINIAK is an editor and translator. She lives in London, England. Her recent projects include Swallowing Mercury, by Wioletta Greg, translated from Polish.