Apologies for my English-speaking readers, but today’s A to Z Challenge post is about a book available only in Polish. But do read on, as this is a beautiful story collection and who knows, maybe one day someone will translate it into Shakespeare’s language.
The stories in “Wody głębokie jak niebo” (”Waters as deep as the sky”), collection by Anna Brzezińska, are set on a peninsula that resembles Italy from the times of Renaissance, but of course, there is magic. Each story covers a different period of time, so the characters from the first one are nothing but a vague legend to the characters in the last one, but even though the time passes, people in Brzezińska’s stories do not change. Love, greed for power, betrayal, they all stay the same, and mistakes of the past are bound to be repeated.
This, on one hand, makes each story a stand-alone, while on the other it offers a wide perspective on how the time passing and rulers’ changing affect the perception of the past events, how judgments are passed, and the historical accounts are slowly altered to match the present king’s needs. Saviors become the enemies, the enemies become allies… The saying that the history is written by the victors becomes very true on the pages of “Wody głębokie jak niebo”.
But the collection, even though spanning through centuries, is not about epic events, though there are battles, dramatic pursuits, and political intrigues. It’s about people, about how emotions—no matter whether it’s love or a desire for revenge—can bring their own demise, how their dreams can push them to make the wrong choices, and how one single even can define their whole lives.
Needless to say, “Wody głębokie jak niebo” is not an optimistic book, and I confess that as rarely as I cry when reading books, this one managed to press not a tear, but many streams of them out of my eyes. Of course, I was young when I’ve first read it, but somehow I feel that if I’ve read them today, they’d have a similar effect on me. I believe it’s not only because of the stories told, but also how they’re told. Brzezińska exceeds in using beautiful style and poetic language to create an unforgettable atmosphere, and breathes both live and emotions into every sentence.
There’s also a bit of a sad personal story connected with that book. I used to own a copy, and even though I’ve never got to meet Anna Brzezińska in person, I posted “Wody głębokie jak niebo” to my dear friend and she got the author’s autograph for me. Sadly, while I was in Ireland, it got lost, and till today I’m not sure whether I’ve lend it to someone who never returned it to me or it disappeared in the mess of my countless moves from one flat to another. I own a digital copy too, but in this case, I still have a sense of loss, and even the news of the book coming out in a new edition can’t ease it.
How about you? Did you ever lose a book and feel strongly about it?
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.