Poetic, witty, and ever so faintly surreal, Seferdelicately explores the legacy of the Holocaust for the postwargeneration, a generation for whom a devastating history has growndistant, both temporally and emotionally. The novel’sprotagonist, Jan Sefer, is a psychotherapist living inVienna—someone whose professional life puts him in daily contactwith the traumas of others but who has found it difficult to addresshis own family background, especially his memories of his father.During a two-week trip to his father’s birthplace, Kraków—avisit he has long postponed—he begins to sort out some of hisfeelings and to connect with a past the memory of which is swiftlydisintegrating. Much like memory itself, Sefer speaks to usobliquely, through the juxtaposition of images and vignettes ratherthan through the construction of a linear narrative. With itsfragmentary structure and its preference for hints rather thanexplanations, the novel belongs to the realm of the postmodern, whileit also incorporates subtle elements of magical realism.
One of Poland’s best-known poets, Ewa Lipska is today a majorfigure in European literature. In their translation of Sefer,Lipska’s first novel, translators Barbara Bogoczek and TonyHoward deftly capture the poet’s unmistakable voice—cooland precise, gently ironic, and deeply humane.
the poetry editor of the literary magazine Pismo, which she co-founded,
and was active in Poland’s Nowa Fala, or New Wave. Her many
prizes include the Koscielski Fund Award, the Robert Graves Pen Club
Award, and Pen Club Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. Her poetry
has been widely translated, into Hebrew as well as into European
languages. Barbara Bogoczek is a freelance translator
and interpreter based in London. Tony Howard is
professor of English at Warwick University. Together they have
translated works by numerous Polish authors—Ewa Lipska, Tadeusz
Rózewicz, Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Hanna Krall, and many
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