Monday, March 5, 2012

Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak was born in Wroclaw, Poland. She moved to Canada in 1981 and has worked for Radio Canada International and Sheridan College, where she taught English and humanities. Her first short story, “Marble Heroes,” was published by The Antigonish Review in 1994, and her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. She is also the author of Garden of Venus, which has been translated into seven languages.

Her latest novel is The Winter Palace.

A few weeks ago I asked Stachniak what she was reading.  Her reply:
I have just finished reading The Appointment, by Herta Müller. I’ve wanted to read her for some time not only because she is a superb writer and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2009. Müller grew up in Communist Rumania while I grew up in Communist Poland, we are both emigrants, of the same generation, and such similarities of fate are important to me.

As soon as I started reading The Appointment I knew how much our experience of totalitarianism differed. In the “Socialist prison camp,” as we referred to the Communist block, Ceausescu's Romania was in a league of its own. Life in Communist Poland may have been bleak, humiliating and often absurd, but it lacked the degree of cruelty and senselessness that was part of everyday Romanian experience. Müller is sparing in her details, but these she divulges are enough to re-create the feeling of helplessness under totalitarian oppression and the doomed struggle to preserve human dignity. As the last sentence of the novel asserts: “The trick is not to go mad.”

The Appointment is a dark but immensely powerful novel. It is born out of the totalitarian experience, of being watched and spied upon at all times, of trying to save one’s dignity in an inhuman, perverted world.
Visit Eva Stachniak's website.

--Marshal Zeringue