The Center for the Art of Translation
The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses
PEN World Voices
The Polish American Cultural Institute of Minnesota
University of Illinois at Chicago Polish Studies
The Polish Cultural Institute New York
History of a Disappearance by Filip Springer
Polish reportage author at PEN World Voices and in four major cities
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York
Filip Springer's work offers an example of how truth can be even more enthralling than fiction. - Lani Seelinger, Culture Trip
Lying at the crucible of Central Europe, the Silesian village of Kupferberg suffered the violence of the Thirty Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, and World War I. After Stalin's post-World War II redrawing of Poland's borders, Kupferberg became Miedzianka, a town settled by displaced persons from all over Poland and a new center of the Eastern Bloc's uranium-mining industry. Decades of neglect and environmental degradation led to the town being declared uninhabitable, and the population was evacuated. Today, it exists only in ruins, with barely a hundred people living on the unstable ground above its collapsing mines.
In this collection of unsparing and insightful reportage, the renowned journalist, photographer, and architecture critic Filip Springer rediscovers this tiny town's history. Digging beyond the village's mythic foundations and the great wars and world leaders that shaped it, Springer catalogs the lost human elements: the long-departed tailor and deceased shopkeeper; the parties, now silenced, that used to fill the streets with shouts and laughter; and the once-beautiful cemetery, with gravestones upended by tractors and human bones scattered by dogs. In Miedzianka Springer sees a microcosm of European history, and a powerful narrative of how the ghosts of the past continue to haunt us in the present day.
Springer and his translator, Sean Gasper Bye, will start the tour at bookstore events in four major cities, as well as at the annual Hejna Polish Studies conference at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The tour will conclude with two appearances at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York. PEN World Voices is New York's leading festival of international literature, featuring Salman Rushdie, Masha Gessen, Colum McCann and dozens more of the world's top authors.
To learn more about History of a Disappearance, or to purchase copies, click here.
Filip Springer (born 1982) is a self-taught journalist who has been working as a reporter and photographer since 2006. His journalistic debut--History of a Disappearance: The Story of a Forgotten Polish Town--was shortlisted for the Ryszard Kapuscinski Literary Reportage Prize in 2011 and was nominated for the Gdynia Literary Prize in 2012. He was also shortlisted for the Nike Literary Prize in 2012 and winner of the third annual Ryszard Kapuscinski fellows contest for young journalists.
Sean Gasper Bye is a translator of Polish, French, and Russian literature. He has translated work by some of Poland's leading nonfiction writers, including Malgorzata Szejnert, Pawel Smolenski, and Lidia Ostalowska. An excerpt from his translation of History of a Disappearance won the Asymptote Close Approximations Prize in 2016. He is currently Literature and Humanities Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute New York.
This tour is co-presented by The Booksmith, The Center for the Art of Translation, PEN World Voices, Restless Books, Ridgewoodteka, Topos Bookstore, Unabridged Books, and The University of Illinois, Chicago.