Miss Nobody

Tomek Tryzna, Author, Joanna Trzeciak, Translator, Joanna Tryzeciak, Translator
Tomek Tryzna, Author, Joanna Trzeciak, Translator, Joanna Tryzeciak, Translator Doubleday Books $23 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-48939-3
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It's no surprise that Tryzna's debut novel about the psychic upheavals of adolescence, first published in Poland in 1993 and now available in a fine English translation, has recently been filmed by Golden Palm Award-winning director Andrzej Wajda. Tryzna's surreal, dreamlike sequences have a cinematic quality that magnifies the fragmented experiences of Marysia Kawczak, the 15-year-old protagonist who is growing up during the last years of the Communist regime. When Marysia's father decides to move the family from their backward but close-knit village to a modern apartment in Walbrzych, the nearest big city, she discovers friendship, sex and her own lust for freedom. Soon after meeting two eccentric classmates, one a musical prodigy and the other a street-smart opportunist, Marysia begins, tentatively, to rebel against the obligations that have been placed on her by her family, religion and tradition. Dissatisfied with tending to her four siblings and eager for adventure, she is lured into staying out late, lying and even desecrating the Holy Water receptacle in the church. Marysia's painful awakening and the erratic behavior of her new friends, Kasia and Eva, reveal the complexities of growing up in a crumbling social and economic structure in which everything seems to have a price, in U.S. dollars. Kasia and Eva are wealthy; seeing their comfortable homes and elegant mothers adds to Marysia's disgust at her obese, slavish mother and alcoholic, distant father. The narrative alternates between hyperrealistic and hallucinogenic scenes, frequently with no clear demarcations. Tryzna, however, brings Marysia's chaotic awakening to a head with poignant details, as both Eva and Kasia betray her. Marysia's broadened perspective on friendship, loyalty and family obligation is convincingly portrayed. (Jan.)
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