ELKOST International Literary Agency

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Józef Mackiewicz

ELKOST Intl. literary agency handles WORLD RIGHTS in all works by Józef Mackiewicz

Józef MackiewiczJózef Mackiewicz (1902-1985) was a Polish novelist and political writer.

Though the vagaries of history and fame might suggest otherwise, he is by no means an obscure figure. He possessed a Zelig-like capacity to be present at crucial moments as a witness to atrocities. He went to Katyn after the German army had found the remains of several thousand of Polish officers shot there by the Soviets in 1940. His book The Katyn Wood Murders was the first account of this crime. Mackiewicz also testified to a U.S. Congress Committee investigating the circumstances of this crime in his dual capacity of witness and expert. In 1943 he witnessed the Ponary slaughter of Jews, which he recounted in a most powerful reportage and in the novel Better Not to Talk Aloud.

His uncompromising attitude towards Communism led to his works being banned in the People's Republic of Poland. Effectively a "non-person," it was forbidden even to mention his name in journalism or academia.

Political émigré until his death in 1985, Mackiewicz wrote for the Polish and Russian diaspora and, though praised by figures like Czesław Miłosz as one of the greatest contemporary Polish writers, only a few of his books have been translated into other languages.

Mackiewicz's prose is extremely realistic: he believed that there are no untouchable subjects. In 1957, he published Kontra, a novel about the Cossacks, both citizens of the Soviet Union and political émigrés, who fought against the USSR in the Soviet-German War, but were subsequently handed over by the Allies in accordance with the Yalta agreement.

Then, in 1962, The Colonel Myasoyedov Affair, in which the bombing of Dresden was depicted with a harsh realism. His other best-known novels include: The Road to Nowhere, "a powerful, traditionally realistic novel on a most untraditional subject: life in Lithuania as it was being converted into a republic of the Soviet Union", to quote Miłosz.

His analytical treatise The Triumph of Provocation with its interpretation of the differences and similarities between Communism and Nazism is highly relevant to debates about these two systems and to major contemporary issues.

In the Shadow of the Cross and The Vatican in the Shadow of the Red Star Mackiewicz analyses the conciliatory policies of John XXIII and Paul VI towards Communism.

Mackiewicz's forthright views were often confirmed by subsequent events, and today his writings sound remarkably contemporary. His voluminous output as a writer of fiction and a publicist is undergoing an unusual revival.

"Given the unfortunate fact that Józef Mackiewicz is generally unknown in the U.S. and most of his work is untranslated or out of print, he might as well be seen as a new writer, as far as Americans are concerned. Considered in this light, he is quite simply the most intriguing new writer I have encountered in years." -- Charles Holdefer, the author of Back in the Game (2012), The Contractor (2007) and other novels, for Dactyl Review.