Jerzy Franczak

jurekfranczak@gmail.com

Urodzony w 1978 roku. Prozaik, eseista, literaturoznawca. Do roku 2001 opublikował kilka książek z wierszami, po czym - jako liryk - zamilkł na wieki. Wydał m.in. zbiory opowiadań "Trzy historye" (HA!art, 2001), "Szmermele" (Nowy Wiek, 2004), "Sainte-Fabeau" (Lokator, 2017), zbiór esejów "Grawitacje" (Rita Baum, 2007) oraz powieści "Przymierzalnia" (HA!art, 2008), "Nieludzka komedia" (Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2009), "Da capo" (Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2010), "NN" (Ha!art, 2012). Opublikował też dwie rozprawy o literaturze nowoczesnej: "Rzecz o nierzeczywistości" (Universitas, 2002), "Poszukiwanie realności. Światopogląd polskiej prozy modernistycznej" (Universitas, 2007), "Błądzące słowa. Jacques Ranciere i filozofia literatury (IBL, 2017). Współtwórca wraz z PIO Kalińskim  książek artystycznych (patrz: Bestlookery).  Na antenie TVP Kultura prowadził program o nowościach wydawniczych "Czytelnia". Redaguje "Książki w Tygodniku" (dodatek do "Tygodnika Powszechnego"), gdzie czasem też publikuje (zob. https://www.tygodnikpowszechny.pl/autor/jerzy-franczak-647). Adiunkt w Katedrze Antropologii Literatury i Badań Kulturowych UJ, wWykłada na polonistyce i kulturoznawstwie (niektóre teksty naukowe można znaleźć tu: https://jagiellonian.academia.edu/JerzyFranczak). 

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Jerzy Franczak (b. 1978) — prose-writer, essayist, literary scholar and critic, and academic teacher. The author of novels, short-story collections, essays, anfd two books on contemporary literature. He has worked, among other positions, as a television and radio journalist. He was the editor-in-chief of the literary and arts magazine Nowy Wiek. For several years he hosted the programme on new publications, Czytelnia, for TVP Kultura. He has also published his own collections of short stories Trzy historye (Three Storys, 2001), Szmermele (Squib, 2004) and Algi, kalki, zębatki (Algae, Calques, and Cogs, 2004). He is also the author of a collection of essays, Grawitacje (Gravitations, 2007) and the dissertations on contemporary literature: Rzecz o nierzeczywistości (Something about Unreality, 2002), Poszukiwanie realności. Światopogląd polskiej prozy modernistycznej (The Search for Reality. The Polish World View and Modernist Prose, 2007). His works also include several novels: Przymierzalnia (The Changing Room, 2008), Nieludzka komedia (The Inhuman Comedy, 2009), Da capo (2010) and NN (2012). His writings have been translated into Italian, French, German, English, Slovenian, Slovakian, and other languages. He works with Twórczość, HA!art, and Tygodnik Powszechny. He is an academic teacher at the Faculty of Polish Studies and the Faculty of Cultural Studies of Jagiellonian University (the Department of Literary Anthropology and Cultural Studies).

 

The fitting Room (2008)

The main problem for Jurek in The fitting Room is his lack of a defined identity or fixed life plan, beacause beeing a writer is a bizarre profession: it condemns him to endless revision of his life with the help of litterary means, telling the story of it, which always means shifting from the realm of reality into the worls of fiction, where you don’t have to take responsibility for anything, and at any moment people and things can be subjected to correction, revisions that results in caricature, ot total anihilation. Jurek lives among male and female friends who, like him, are struggling with the unreality of the worls around them and with the artificiality of the roles they are playing. We could say that they are all stuck in the “fitting room” of the title. There they try on ready-made personality masks, which they keep swapping in a futile search for one that “fits” their faces. All at once this is an existential problem – and an excellent litterary game, beacause the masks are at the same time sets of languages and quotations that are actively used within the milieu of writers and lovers of literature.

New Books from Poland 2008

 

The Inhuman Comedy (2009)

The Inhuman Comedy is on the surface a humorous tale, light and breezy, though somewhat unpleasant. It is being told by one Emil Król, a writer manqué, a frustrated teacher and an unlucky lover. His stories of his family, his travels and his work are filled with venomous humor and bitter irony. By the reader’s smile vanishes from his mouth when this kind skeptic commits a bestial murder, killing his lover, the mother-to-be of his child, and then chops up her body… Locked in prison, he describes his life and eavesdrops on the media furor gathering around his crime. Without sacrificing a touch of its wit, Franczak’s novel ultimately reveals its Dantesque dimensions and changes into a meditation on contemporary evil, both intangible and stripped of its essence. Frankfurt Book Fair 2010


The Inhuman Comedy is one of the finest examples of ‘young writers’ I’ve come across lately. Perfection of craft and knowledge of literature are visible on every page. Franczak’s novel is a sophisticated, erudite game – the very title contains clear allusions to Dante’s Divine Comedy and Balzac’s Human Comedy (the former work serves the author in discussing the nature of contemporary evil, and he skillfully reflects the latter in the satirical way he portrays the misery of our daily activities) — but this is just the beginning.
Patrycja Pustkowiak, “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna”
 
Jerzy Franczak is without a doubt one of the most interesting figures among today’s young Polish writers.
Leszek Bugajski, “Newsweek”
 
 

Da capo (2010)

Is Da Capo a rollicking adventure in the spirit of Roman Polanski’s Frantic, replete with a young femme fatale and a man with nothing left to lose? Is it an unflinching examination of dysfunctional family relationships (both with one’s parents and with one’s wife/child) and a valiant attempt to salvage something from them? An inside look at the seedy underbelly of Krakow’s bars and night life? A lesson in how to get fired from your corporate office job? Well, it’s all of these things, obviously, as well as a sequel to Franczak’s previous Wydawnictwo Literackie Publishers success, The Inhuman Comedy — the new novel’s protagonist is the brother of the previous one’s. Franczak’s great achievement here is to have not sat content with writing a gripping novel that young people will identify with. He has upped the stakes by also making this a novel that takes emotional risks, and demonstrates a universal comprehension of human interaction way beyond his years.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

 

The main character of Inhuman Comedy, a young writer and a fresh-made husband, kind of by accident becomes the perpetrator of a violent crime committed against his own wife, and what is more, in the finale of the book his has to ask himself some fundamental questions about the moral value of literature, which when necessary will digest and reconfigure common baseness and cruelty into a “wokr o f art”, providing him with absolution. The hero of Da capo, meanwhile, is first a timid child dominated by the people that surround him, next a sex maniac condemned to compulsive acts of masturbation, and finally a lifesong loser who, after a series of catastrophes at work and in his marriage, goes back home to his parents’ place, where he is unexpectedly embraced by his father, who had terrorized him in his youth, even managing, in the end, to come to love that once-hated man. (…) Da capo – along with The Inhuman Comedy – is thus a work that is somehow characteristic of young, contemporary Polish literature. It shows how its protagonists have trouble defining their own identity, trouble with their entrance into the social forum, and ultimately trouble evaluating themselves; the traumas connected with this evaluation often have their origins in a defective family and are passed down from father to son.

New Books From Poland 2010

 

There are more father-tyrants alike the one in Kuczok’s Gnój; it suffices to mention here the father of the main character in the novel by Jerzy Franczak, Da capo or the stepfather in Queen of tiramisu by Bohdan Sławiński. Both of them are authoritarian personalities, both of them do not represent anything that could be in any way interesting or enriching for their young victims. Hence, pretty much stereotypical spectacle of naked violence takes place in their family homes, although in both cases it has different psychological bases. The father in Franczak’s novel fuels the sentimental anxiety in his son, makes him a man who does not manage life very well, who is even convicted for another defeat and humiliation. This makes the son – the eternal loser - eventually landing back in the family home, where he is received and understood. The novel ends, paradoxically, with an act of reconciliation with the father and the affirmation of that order, which previously led to the character’s disturbance, psychologically and character-wise.

Jerzy Jarzębski

 

NN (2012)

The acronym of the title pertains as much to the plot (a nameless victim of a road accident appears in the exposition) as to the key words – Nobody and Nothing – with which the author marks the novel’s two parts. The beginning seems ordinary enough – in Kraków, in the middle of a rainy night, three random pedestrians stop by a man lying on the road, obviously hit by a car. Each of the characters has a monologue concerning both the accident at hand and the speaker’s own situation. As such, the reader is given a baton race of storytellers – and it soon turns out that there are more than three. The latecomers are not tied to the initial incident, but they have various relationships with the protagonists who have spoken. The first to speak is Artur, a medical equipment salesman. He hates his work, and to some de­gree, himself as well. The same goes for Mariola, a simple woman tormented by her alcoholic husband, who, to keep the pain from driving her entirely mad (the loss of her child), keeps a blog filled with fantasies of a better life. Just when she’s about to slip away from a police patrol, a boy named Heads appears – an eternal student, something of a left-wing anarchist, a bit of a rebel without a cause. We hear his stories a little later on – it is he who introduces us to the remaining characters who will monologue. Among them is a figure who shares the author’s biography – Franciszek Jerzak, an employee of the Jagiellonian University. These protagonists differ in terms of their social status and their cultural competencies, the author has given them different states of awareness, he has tied them to different communi­ties. What they have in common, however, is a crucial thing – alienation, a sense of not understanding, the experience of inauthenticity. In moments of sincerity the protagonists of NN understand that their lives are less ab­surd than entirely conventionalized, subject to unbearable routine. They correctly suspect that someone or something has forced them to play their roles in society, to participate in the tedious, barren play called life. It is also significant that, in describing their place in the world, the protagonists speak only to themselves, with hope of neither comprehension nor commu­nication.

Dariusz Nowacki, New Books From Poland 2012