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Stone Upon Stone
Archipelago Books, January 2011

A marvel of narrative seduction, a rare double masterpiece of storytelling and translation...Mysliwski’s prose, replete with wit and an almost casual intensity, skips nimbly from one emotional register to the next, carrying dramatic force... He manages tone so finely, orchestrating a perfect continuity between the tragic and the comic and, ultimately, between life and death.... In his translation Bill Johnston navigates Mysliwski's modulations with skill and the lightness of touch that is generally the face of profound labour.Times Literary Supplement

Sweeping . . . irreverent . . With winning candor . . . Pietruszka chronicles the modernization of rural Poland and celebrates the persistence of desire.The New Yorker

Stone Upon Stone is like a letter written to God. It is essentially all middle. It contains vast, incredible stores of pain, and it contains its own kind of happiness, too. It is full of real wisdom. And great stories.— The Quarterly Conversation

Stone Upon Stone, originally published in 1984 and only now available in English, is the great epic of twentieth-century rural Poland, a place that seems like an ancient boulder, washed over by the river of history and technological change.  In a plain-spoken but unquestionably modern, even Faulknerian, voice, Stone Upon Stone’s protagonist, Szymek Pietruszka recounts his village youth, this time as a guerrilla soldier, as a wedding official, a barber, policeman, lover, drinker, and caretaker for his invalid brother, revealing the wisdom that comes with suffering and a vital and exuberant love for life.  

Bill Johnston’s masterful translation of Stone Upon Stone received the Best Translated Book Award for 2012 from the University of Rochester’s international literature blog, “Three Percent,” edited by Chad Post, including a $5000 prize from

 Tr. Bill Johnston. Archipelago Books, 2011.  ISBN 978-0-98246-2-3

More about Wieslaw Mysliwski