Born in 1966 in Złotoryja, Poland, Szczygieł is a reporter of “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily (since 1990). A graduate of the Faculty of Journalism at the University of Warsaw. Winner of the Melchior 2004 Prize for his reports on Czechoslovakia and its people in the Melchior Wańkowicz Competition. His first works were published in the “Na przełaj” weekly (1985). Author of a collection of reportage writing on Poland Sunday that Happened on Wednesday (Niedziela, która zdarzyła się w środę, 1996). His texts have been published in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and the USA. In 1995–2001, Mariusz Szczygieł hosted his own talk-show (“Na każdy temat”, TV Polsat) for which he received several awards. He is an editor of a reporters’ feature “Duży Format” in “Gazeta Wyborcza” daily (since 2004) and together with Wojciech Tochman and Paweł Goźliński runs the Polish Reportage Institute. Two of his texts recently appeared in “La Reppublica”.

Titles represented:

  • Make Your Own Paradise
  • Gottland
  • Sunday that Happened on Wednesday
  • 20 Years of New Poland in Reportage Writing

Gottland

Gottland, reportage, Czarne 2006 & 2010, 232 pages, ISBN: 83-89755-62-9

Le Figaro: “Gottland” is not a book, it is a gem.

Libération: Extraordinary, hypnotizing and disturbing tales.

Rights sold:

  • Bulgaria (Paradox)
  • China (Imaginist)
  • Czech Republic (Dokoran – trade & audio-book) 
  • Czech Republic (Narodni Divadlo v Ostrave & Svandovo divadlo na Smichove Praha – theatre rights)
  • Estonia (Lindepuu)
  • France (Actes Sud)
  • Germany (Suhrkamp)
  • Hungary (Europa)
  • Italy (Nottetempo)
  • Macedonia (Ili Ili)
  • Romania (Grupul Editorial Art SRL)
  • Russia (NLO)
  • Serbia (Sluzbeni glasnik)
  • Slovakia (Premedia)
  • Slovenia (Sanje)
  • Spain (Acantilado)
  • Turkey (Kalem, anthology rights)
  • Ukraine (Grani-T)
  • USA (Melville House)
  • film rights sold

Manuscripts available in German, French, Italian, Russian and Czech

Prizes:

  • nominated for the Nike Literary Prize 2007
  • Prix l’Amphi for the French edition
  • Europe Book Prize – Le prix du livre europeen 2009
  • Gratias Agit Czech State Award

A collection of exquisite literary pieces of reportage on the Czechs entangled in their times. Mariusz Szczygieł’s Gottland is not a stereotypical tale featuring happy-go-lucky people who bind their time drinking beer. Lida Baarova, actress – the woman who made Goebbels cry; Otakar Szvec, sculptor – creator of world-largest statue of Stalin, who decided to kill himself before his work was finished; Marta Kubišova, singer – the Communist regime banned her from singing for 20 years and erased archive radio recordings of her songs; Tomas Bata – legendary shoe manufacturer who built a town fully controlled by himself ten years before George Orwell suggested a similar idea; and many others – those are the characters portrayed in this book. By presenting their unusual lives, Mariusz Szczygieł gives account of the times in which they (and we) have lived. He shows the high price they had to pay for seemingly unimportant decisions and the tragic combination of chance and fate affecting the lives of whole generations.

“An intelligent, captivating and much needed book. Through his tale of lives of individual people, Mariusz Szczygieł reports on the complicated history of our Southern neighbours. Fascinated with their culture and morale, their sense of irony, humour and sarcasm, he gives an account of how the Czechs dealt with `history which was let off the leash`. We are reading those stories from the perspective of our destiny and that makes the reading even more captivating. Our experience was similar yet so much different. A fascinating book”.

Adam Michnik

“A great book. Deeply depressing presentation of the Czech people`s fate in the 20th century (it also covers the new century which is equally depressing). What I have always found fascinating in the fate of those people was the constant, dynamic, tragic and yet amusing ambiguity. Mariusz Szczygieł is well versed in the Polish school of reportage writing and he applies his method to this specific Czech ambiguity. The effect is very strong, original and surprising. For me most of those images have an evoking power. It`s been very long since I made an equally intense journey to my youthful experiences, questions and fascinations. Yet the reading left me with a deep sense of sadness. I`m waiting for the second part of those reports – essays-stories (the genre is not fully defined) hoping that some catharsis is possible and that there is a way out of this trap of Central European fate”.

Agnieszka Holland

Make Your Own Paradise

Zrób sobie raj, reportage, Czarne 2010, 292 pages, ISBN: 978-83-7536-223-7

Rights sold:

  • Bulgaria (Paradox)
  • Czech Republic (Dokoran)
  • France (Actes Sud)
  • Hungary (Europa)
  • Italy (Nottetempo)
  • Romania (Editura Art)
  • Ukraine (Tempora)

Unlike Gottland, which described the Czechs between 1882 and 2003, Make Your Own Paradise is first and foremost about the present day Czech Republic. It is the story of a nation which created culture as an antidepressant. The author is fascinated by Czech culture: a culture of joyful sorrow in which laughter serves as a mask for tragic helplessness. The reporter in Szczygieł is most fascinated by Czechs who do not believe in God. “What is life like without God?” – a question sometimes asked directly, sometimes hidden, is the refrain of this book – a mixture of personal diary, essay, feature and reportage.

Sunday that Happened on Wednesday

Niedziela, która zdarzyła się w środę, reportage, Czarne 2011, 256 pages, ISBN 978-83-7536-245-7

Rights sold:

  • Ukraine (ECEM)

Szczygieł is a master in catching the time and saturating his narrative with people’s dreams – like that of the woman who dreams of buying her son a “blanket jacket” with severance money. He listens to everybody and if he makes anyone feel ashamed, it is the readers who are forced to think and keep their eyes wider open. If future historians want to learn something about Poland of the 1990s, they won’t do so from contemporary literature, but Szczygieł’s book will be a tremendous help to them.

Paweł Dunin-Wąsowicz, ”Machina” (1997)

I had the fortune to be a witness to the situation when some people experienced Sunday occurring on Wednesday. It was my first book of reportage. It dates back to the time when I loved writing about Poland, I was not a host of a TV show and I had no inkling that I would be going to the Czech Republic for whatever reason. These are stories of averageness because I myself come from an average town and, as my dad Jerzy Szczygieł likes saying, average is beautiful. The new Poland after the fall of Communism put an exceptional challenge before all those average people. So please, read my book as an account of a competition in staying on the surface.

Mariusz Szczygieł (2011)

The reporter’s texts are illustrated by photographs by Witold Krassowski, who recorded life in the new Poland at the same time as Mariusz Szczygieł between 1989 and 1997. These were very photogenic years, with people’s faces changing like never before. What is more, this being a pre-digital era, the photographs have the added quality of being taken on negatives.

20 Years of New Poland in Reportage Writing. Selection and commentary Mariusz Szczygieł

20 lat nowej Polski w reportażach według Mariusza Szczygła, reportage, Czarne 2009, 472 pages, ISBN 978-83-7536-143-8

Rights sold:

  • Slovakia (Premedia)
A personal selection of texts about where New Poland began and where it is now. Not the Poland seen in newspapers or on TV, but that which had to redefine its mentality overnight.
Mariusz Szczygieł
Authors include: Irena Morawska, Joanna Sokolińska, Joanna Wojciechowska , Karol Podgórski, Włodzimierz Nowak , Wojciech Staszewski, Edyta Gietka, Ewa Winnicka, Witold Szabłowski, Marcin Kołodziejczyk, Anna Fostakowska, Wojciech Bojanowski, Paweł Piotr Reszka, Jacek Antczak, Artur Pałysa, Lidia Ostałowska, Tomasz Kwaśniewski, Katarzyna Surmiak-Domańska, Paweł Smoleński, Jacek Hugo-Bader, Grzegorz Sroczyński, Wojciech Tochman, Mariusz Szczygieł.
Illustrations by Grupa Twożywo.

A personal selection of texts about where New Poland began and where it is now. Not the Poland seen in newspapers or on TV, but that which had to redefine its mentality overnight.

Mariusz Szczygieł

Authors include: Irena Morawska, Joanna Sokolińska, Joanna Wojciechowska , Karol Podgórski, Włodzimierz Nowak , Wojciech Staszewski, Edyta Gietka, Ewa Winnicka, Witold Szabłowski, Marcin Kołodziejczyk, Anna Fostakowska, Wojciech Bojanowski, Paweł Piotr Reszka, Jacek Antczak, Artur Pałysa, Lidia Ostałowska, Tomasz Kwaśniewski, Katarzyna Surmiak-Domańska, Paweł Smoleński, Jacek Hugo-Bader, Grzegorz Sroczyński, Wojciech Tochman, and Mariusz Szczygieł.

Illustrations by Grupa Twożywo.