An influential Polish classic celebrates 50 years—and its first English edition
As Stone Tablets opens, Istvan Terey, a poet and World War II veteran, is serving as cultural attaché with the Hungarian embassy in Delhi just a few months before his country is torn apart by the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. He is personable and popular with Indians and Europeans, communists and capitalists, but his outspoken criticisms of corruption in the Hungarian government and the embassy threaten to undermine his career. Meanwhile, he has fallen in love with Margit, an Australian ophthalmologist working in India, who is still living through a tragedy of her own: her fiancé died under torture during World War II.
Draining heat, brilliant color, intense smells, and intrusive animals enliven this sweeping Cold War romance. Based on the author’s own experience as a Polish diplomat in India in the late 1950s, Stone Tablets was one of the first literary works in Poland to offer scathing criticisms of Stalinism, and was censored when it was first submitted for publication. Stephanie Kraft’s translation opens this book for the first time to English-speaking readers.
“A high-paced, passionate narrative in which every detail is vital.”—Leslaw Bartelski
Zukrowski is “a brilliantly talented observer of life, a visionary skilled at combining the concrete with the magical, lyricism with realism…a distinguished stylist.”—Leszek Zulinski
“A romance fraught with personal and political risk is at the core of this historically important yet previously untranslated novel by a Polish diplomat stationed in India during the Cold War…inspired by the author’s own experiences, Zukrowski’s precise descriptions of India are memorable, and there is a certain throwback appeal to the depictions of diplomacy conducted through telegrams and glasses of whiskey. But it is Zukrowski’s trenchant critique of Stalinism and political message, bold for its time, that make this novel truly noteworthy.”—Booklist
Wojciech Zukrowski (1916–2000) was one of Poland’s best-known twentieth-century authors. A prolific novelist, screenwriter, and essayist, he was a war correspondent in Vietnam in the early 1950s, and worked at the embassy in New Delhi from 1956 to 1959. In 1996 Zukrowski won the Reymont Prize for lifetime literary achievement.