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Poland’s NIKE literary award goes to reporter Cezary Łazarewicz

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 02.10.2017 12:02
Cezary Łazarewicz’s reportage entitled “So there’ll be no traces” has won the 2017 Nike Award, one of Poland’s most prestigious literary prizes.

The fifty-one-year-old is an acclaimed writer specializing in reportage. His award-winning book offers a comprehensive account of the murder of school student Grzegorz Przemyk during Poland’s communist era.

On 12 May 1983, on the day he celebrated the end of his school-leaving exams, Przemyk was detained in Warsaw’s Old Town and then severely beaten at the nearby police station.

The policemen used their elbows to hit him in the stomach, a tried-and-tested method which was said to leave no traces of a beating. He was taken to an emergency medical service station and died from serious internal injuries two days later.

Przemyk’s funeral turned into the biggest anti-communist demonstration since the imposition of martial law in December 1981. There was nationwide public outrage over police brutality. But an official probe into Przemyk’s death placed blame on two paramedics and an ambulance service doctor.

One of the paramedics pleaded guilty after security services threatened him with his family's murder. After the fall of communism, the perpetrators were never found or brought to justice.

In his book "So there’ll be no traces" Łazarewicz shows both the cynicism of the authorities, including Poland's communist-era strongman General Jaruzelski, in covering up the murder, and the helplessness of the newly democratic Poland, which proved unable to bring those responsible to justice.

One critic described the book as “a study of the failure of democracy in the face of totalitarian manipulation”.

The NIKE literary competition for the best book of the year has been run by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily since 1997.

Its previous winners have included such household names as Czesław Miłosz, Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz and Olga Tokarczuk. (mk/vb)

tags: Literature
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