After receiving the award during the gala in 2017, Wojciech Chmielewski said: Marek Nowakowski is watching over me, as both you and I are witnessing today. He also spoke of his friendship with the award’s patron, their walks around the streets of Warsaw and discussions about literature.
“We are giving the award to Wojciech Chmielewski not for being an imitator of, or – God forbid! – an disciple of Marek Nowakowski — said Maciej Urbanowski when justifying the decision. He explained that the jury was interested in the similarity of a model of writing and attitude toward the world that connected both authors, as well as the important and interesting distinctiveness of Chmielewski’s prose, which is confirmed by successive republications of his work. According to the professor, Chmielewski’s writing is not narcissistically absorbed in itself. “There is an alert observation of the world, critical, while full of specific mercy, there is succinctness, a sparing use of words that precisely sketching the contours of modernity,” he said. “Precision does not mean a lack of sensitivity,” he emphasised, stating that he admires the sensitivity of the winner to sensual detail, to how he is able to express ugliness, as well as the beauty of the ordinary.
Wojciech Chmielewski, born in 1969 in Warsaw, graduated in history and journalism from the University of Warsaw. He is a novelist, essayist, literary critic and author of radio plays.
He made his debut in 2003 in Nowa Okolica Poetów with his story Biały bokser, which was later published in Odra, Arcany, Wyspa and Borussia. Until 2016, he cooperated regularly with the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita, where his stories and essays, mainly devoted to the latest prose, were published in the Plus Minus section.
He gained recognition as a prose writer, especially as a novelist. His debut series of stories Biały bokser (2006) was recognised by the Józef Mackiewicz Literary Award, while the volume Brzytwa (2008) was nominated for the Cogito Public Media Award. In Chmielewski, critics see a continuator of the realistic trend in modern Polish prose, relating, among others, to the works of Marek Nowakowski and Kornel Filipowicz. In an interview, the author professed: I am rather a realist, which means that I try to present reality in a manner as probable as my imagination allows.
Close to Chmielewski’s heart is the concept of language as a tool to diagnose reality. His prose is distinguished by a stylistic reserve and conciseness. He is renowned for his ear for language and sensitivity to the sensual specifics. The literary output of the author of Brzytwa is also characterised by a great formal diversity. This includes works of miniature prose, pictures, quasi-reports and scenes from a play, as well as classic novels and stories, the comprehensive story Belweder gryzie w rękę (2017), and the novel Kawa u Doroty (2010).