before he became
a journalist for the leading Polish paper,
“Gazeta Wyborcza” in 1991, he used
to teach in a special school, work in a
grocery store, load trains, weigh pigs at
a collection point, counsel couples at a
marriage counselling service, and run a
distribution company. All these years,
he was also part of the anticommunist
He specializes in features on the former
USRR. He wrote about Central Asia,
China, Mongolia and Tibet after travelling
them on his bike. Russia is too big
for a bike, alas.
He received several journalistic awards.
He is 52 years o

Before he became a journalist for the leading Polish newspaper, “Gazeta Wyborcza” in 1991, he taught in a special school, worked in a grocery store, loaded trains, weighed pigs at a collection point, counselled couples at a marriage counselling service, and ran a distribution company. All these years, he was also part of the anti-Communist opposition.

He specializes in features on the former USRR. He wrote about Central Asia, China, Mongolia and Tibet after travelling through them on his bike. Russia is too big for a bike, alas. He has received several journalistic awards. He is 52 years old.

Titles represented:

  • The Kolyma Journals
  • White Fever
  • Among the Weeds In the Vale of Paradise


The Kolyma Journals

Dzienniki kołymskie, reportage, Czarne 2011, ISBN 978-83-7536-292-3


  • Longlisted for the Ryszard Kapuściński Award 2012,  
  • 2013 English PEN Award for promotion

Rights sold:

  • France (Noir sur Blanc)
  • Italy (Keller)
  • Mexico (La Mirada Salvaje)
  • Slovakia (Absynt)
  • UK (Portobello)

Jacek Hugo Bader’s newest book is a fascinating record of travelling along the Kolyma Highway, a distance of 2025 kilometres. The author confesses: “I’ve come to Kolyma to see what it is like to live in such a place, in such a graveyard. The longest one. Is it possible to love, laugh and scream with joy in this place? What it is like to cry, produce and bring up children, earn money, drink vodka and die here? This is what I’m going to write about. About what they eat, how they sift gold, bake bread, pray, treat illnesses, dream, fight…”
The author delivers on his promise, taking us on a men’s journey to “Russia’s golden heart”. Although sometimes shocked, the reader will be surprised to discover the true face of the Island of the Damned.

Hugo-Bader avoids sentimentality, and has a talent for unearthing grubby human stories and extracting gold from them […] He leaves us with evidence of trauma, but with a sense of wonder too.

The Guardian



White Fever

Biała gorączka, reportage, Czarne 2009, ISBN: 978-83-7536-081-3

Rights sold:

  • France (Noir sur Blanc)
  • Germany (Piper Malik)
  • Hungary (Kairosz)
  • Israel (Kinneret-Zmora)
  • Italy (Keller Editore)
  • Spain (Editorial Dioptrías)
  • Mexico/Bolivia (La Mirada Salvaje)
  • Sweden (Lind & Co)
  • UK (Portobello)
  • Ukraine (ECEM Media)
  • USA (Counterpoint)
  • Turkey (Kalem – anthology rights)

Nominations and Prizes:

  • Nominated for the Beata Pawlak Award 2009
  • Book of the Year 2010 – Polish Radio Channel 3
  • Shortlisted for 2012 Authors’ Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year

Jacek Hugo-Bader’s book was inspired by two Soviet reporters for “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, who over fifty years ago outlined their vision of Russia in the twenty-first century. Most of their ideas about the future now belong among all those fairytales about a Communist paradise on Earth. The modern Russia that Hugo-Bader presents is certainly no idyll.

Hugo-Bader is the type of reporter who “goes the whole way”, gets in everywhere, gets on with everyone, and has to experience just about everything at first hand. To get to know Lake Baikal he crosses it by kayak, and to get the full picture of the state of Russia’s roads he travels several thousand kilometres by jeep. But what interests him most of all are the people: he spends several days in disguise with the homeless, investigates a community living in the taiga that has almost died out because of alcoholism, and meets with a group of people who are HIV positive. He also gets to know the only “happy Russians” – the followers of “one of the six Russian Christs”. All the other characters in this book are straight out of the pages of Dostoyevsky.

As Ryszard Kapuściński used to do, Jacek Hugo-Bader “gives a voice to the poor”, thus nurturing the finest traditions of Polish reportage. This genre remains the true pride of our literature.

Marta Mizuro

Among the Weeds In the Vale of Paradise

W rajskiej dolinie wśród zielska, reportage, Czarne 2010 (2nd edition), 400 pages, ISBN: 978-83-7536-117-9,with b&w photographs

Rights available: World

Reportage pieces from Russia from the years 1993–2001, nominated for the Nike Literary Prize 2003

The vale of paradise is the former Soviet Union which Bader’s protagonists recall as a land of bounty and beauty. A virtual bounty and sham beauty they were, but the nostalgia remains and it crawls out of all the crevices in the provincial concrete blocks of flats and the fancy brick houses in a town for astronauts near Moscow. “The Russian soul is like a spaniel, even when he is cheerful, his muzzle looks desperately sad,” writes the author.

His images of the former empire are so vivid that one can nearly smell the smoke of cheap Bielomory cigarettes which caused the death from cancer of two husbands of Sofia Pietrovna from Vorkuta, and the stench of  Stolichnaya vodka from a Russian general in Tchetchenia.

Anna Żebrowska