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Jacek Dukaj

Photo by Anna Zemanek

Jacek Dukaj

Looter’s Daughter

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Read by Marta Meissner, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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English translation: Gabriela Łagowska

Malena had been conceived but she wasn’t to be born until October. In the meantime, Zuzanna grew fond of her. Every evening, some mornings and at lunchtime, the child beamed at Zuzanna out of the chthonic vessel that had been crystallizing her existence. They would normally gossip without any purpose; other times Zuzanna would turn to the unborn with her problems.  For some reason, the delights felt too intimate to disclose.

Having settled in her realm of shadows, Malena felt somewhat anxious about the inevitable coming into flesh. 

“A sharp object on the floor. Or, say, me tripping over… there’s always a risk of tripping over, right? Leaning over that railing over there, the water bank…I mean, nothing would save me then.”

“But why would you even lean like that? You’d have to walk down the slope first, and then jump.”

“But I could still do that, couldn’t I? I could. And then – flesh.”

Zuzanna was renting a poky apartment on the 44th floor of a Water Tower in Krakow’s elf district, together with the Ludo twins. The Water Towers of Krakow had been built right near the district’s border, just across the green belt. Tremendous winds blew through that place – especially after the air re-conditioning – oftentimes ripping off water walls, which gave conical skyscrapers the appearance of soaking staffs and spilled the dew as far as a kilometer away. Rarely would Zuzanna get to the waterfall gate completely dry when she chose to go back home on foot – but such was one of cultural peculiarities of the Towers. Such were the customs forced by the elf district.

English translation: Gabriela Łagowska
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Jacek Dukaj

(b. 1974) – one of the most interesting contemporary Polish prose writers, a graduate of Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University, considered the most eminent living author of Polish fantasy. Author of, among others, Xavras Wyżryn: a novelette with an alternative history of Poland, in which Krakow plays the key role, and also of Czarne oceany (Black Oceans), Perfekcyjna niedoskonałość (An Ideal Imperfection), and Lód (Ice). Tomasz Bagiński’s animation based on his short story Katedra (The Cathedral) won an Oscar nomination in 2003. Repeated winner of Janusz A. Zajdel Award, three times nominated to the Passport Award of Polityka weekly, and recipient of the Kościelski Award. A passionate enthusiast of philosophy of science and physics, whose latest achievements he keenly follows and tenaciously addresses in his prose. In his capacity of a literary critic, Dukaj has been keen on science fiction and fantasy for years. The basic assumption of his works is the coherence of the created realities bordering on obsession. (ms)
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