Killing Auntie by Andrzej Bursa
A young university student named Jurek, with no particular ambitions or talents, is adrift. After his doting aunt asks him to perform a small chore, he decides to kill her for no good reason other than, perhaps, boredom. Killing Auntie follows Jurek as he seeks to dispose of the corpse – a task more difficult than one might imagine – and then falls in love with a girl he meets on a train. Can he tell her what he’s done? Will that ruin everything?
“I’m convinced – simply – that we are all guilty,” says Jurek, and his adventures with nosy neighbors, false-toothed grandmothers, and love-making lynxes shed light on how an entire society becomes involved in the murder and disposal of dear old Auntie.
This is a short comedic masterpiece combining elements of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jean-Paul Sartre, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Heller, coming together in the end to produce an unforgettable tale of murder and – just maybe – redemption.
deliciously wicked novel … readers will also find plenty to enjoy (one sequence of unwitting cannibalism is particularly memorable).
— Publishers Weekly
The haunting theme of the novel may bring to mind Dostoevsky, but its macabre originality is strictly that of the author … Andrzej Bursa emerges from the pages … as a provocative, interesting, original and highly talented though always angry young man.
— World Literature Today
Dead at 25 in 1957, the Polish postwar firebrand Andrzej Bursa acquired a reputation as a quick-burning, existentially tormented rebel: a literary James Dean of the Stalinist era … Yet Bursa’s dark humor and deadpan satire – finely captured here by translator Wiesiek Powaga – keep utter bleakness at bay.
— Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
Andrzej Bursa was born in 1934 in Krakow, Poland, and died twenty-five years later of a heart attack. In his brief lifetime he composed some of the most original Polish writing of the twentieth century. Killing Auntie is his only novel. His brilliant career and tragic early death established him as a cult figure among restless and disenchanted youth.
As is tradition, along with the inauguration of the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the Book Institute's catalogue "Polish Books for Children & Young Adults" premieres, presenting excellent Polish books for young audiences that were published last year.