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by Marek Bienczyk
translated by Benjamin Paloff
Northwestern University Press, February 2008

1944: Jurek, a young poet, and his friends, Olek, Marcel, Janka, and the beautiful Sonia, all work in the Tworki psychiatric hospital outside Warsaw, living lives that defy the discord and destruction of the war raging outside the hospital walls. They do their jobs, picnic on the weekends, write long letters, and dance in the gardens on the grounds of the hospital. But despite the relative safey of their odd surroundings, the world and the war will soon change their lives forever… “Tworki… is not so much a love-story, or even your usual story of a group of friends in difficult times, as Bienczyk continuously manages to keep the reader off-balance with his elliptical and roundabout presentation. [It] is a narrative that constantly defies expectations, a story that is, on some levels very simple, and yet one in which Bienczyk never allows the reader to simply bob along. Not easy, or easy to take, Tworki is also a powerful work of fiction. In part that is also because of the unusual—or at least atypical—approach(es) Bienczyk takes, a welcome change from so much of the literature about the times.” —The Complete Review