A Thousand Peaceful Cities - Jerzy Pilch

A Thousand Peaceful Cities - Jerzy Pilch

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A comic gem, Jerzy Pilch’s A Thousand Peaceful Cities takes place in 1963, in the latter days of the Polish post-Stalinist “thaw”. The narrator, Jerzyk (“little Jerzy”), is a teenager who is keenly interested in his father, a retired postal administrator, and his father's closest friend. Mr. Traba, a failed Lutheran clergyman, alcoholis, would-be Polish insurrectionist, and one of the wildest literary characters since Laurence Sterne’s Uncle Toby. One drunken afternoon, Mr. Traba and the narrator’s father decide to take charge of their lives and did one final good turn for humanity: travel to distant Warsaw and assassinate the de facto Polish head of state, First Secretary of the Polish United Worker’s Party, Władysław Gomułka - assassinating Mao Tse-rung, after all, would be impractical. And they decide to involve Jerzyk in their scheme… 

The American literary magazine Kirkus Review singled out  A Thousand Peaceful Cities (Tysiąc Spokojnych Miast) as The Best Fiction of 2010. Their starred review says, ‘If laughter actually is the best medicine, fortunate readers of this wonderful novel will surely enjoy perfect health for the rest of their days. Pilch’s writing, all of it, just jumps off of the page. It’s witty, it’s touching; his sentences have so much life, there’s a real joy in his writing…who doesn’t love a story about a drunken plot to assassinate a communist despot with a bow and arrow?’ Pilch, in response, said to the Polish Press Agency that ‘the language used in my novels is hard to translate, so this is definitely a success’. The book was also nominated for a Best Translated Book Award that same year by Three Percent, Three Percent – a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester.


Jerzy Pilch - is one of the best-known Polish novelists and columnists. He was born on 10th of August 1952 in Wisła, died on 29th May 2020.

(find out more about the author https://culture.pl/en/artist/jerzy-pilch)

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