Poland's top literary award goes to essayist Marek Bieńczyk
PR dla Zagranicy
A collection of essays by novelist and wine critic Marek Bieńczyk has received the Nike Award, Poland’s most prestigious literary prize.
Marek Bieńczyk (L) receives awar from TV host Grażyna Torbicka (C) and editor-in-chief of the Gazeta Wyborcza daily Adam Michnik ®: photo – PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Entitled Książka twarzy, which translates as ‘A Book of the Face’, the work is described by the author as ‘my Facebook’.
The book is a collection of essays which blend elements of various genres, including poetry, press articles and criticism, and merge intellectual discourse with autobiographical reflections on a wide range of subject matter, from literature and films to tennis and wine.
Nike jury ury chairman Tadeusz Nyczek has described the book as ‘Bieńczyk’s grand self-portrait’.
Bieńczyk said he was not only extremely happy to receive the award but also totally surprised.
“By giving an award to a modest person as I am, the jury honoured a literary genre which has no definition,” he commented.
Recalling his visits to France, to the places connected with Michel de Montaigne, the classic of the essay, Bieńczyk confessed: “My encounters with Montaigne’s memorabilia led me to two conclusions, firstly that essays are written in a solitary tower and most people do not care to read them, and secondly that if some of them gain recognition and respect it is after more than five centuries. Naturally, the situation in which I have found myself now puts both of these claims into question.”
Fifty six year-old Marek Bieńczyk is a graduate in French studies at the University of Warsaw. In addition to pursuing a teaching career at the Institute of Literary Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, he is a prolific writer and translator from the French.
He has to his credit the novels Terminal and Tworki (the latter translated into English by Benjamin Paloff) and several collections of essays and literary criticism.
A noted wine critic, he also writes extensively on wine and is a co-author of the guide ‘The Wines of Europe’ and is a member of the International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers.
It is for the first time since launching the Nike Award 16 years ago that it has been awarded to a collection of essays. (mk/pg)