Stanisław Łubieński (b. 1983) is a graduate in cultural and Ukrainian studies at the Warsaw University. He has had a string of jobs
with a television station, a publishing house and a soft drink company. A contributor to different newspapers and magazines, he is
also a co-author of a series of films about the life of migrants in Warsaw. His hobby is ornithology. He lives in Warsaw.
- Twelve Birds in the Bush
- The Pirate of the Steppe
Twelve Birds in the Bush
Dwanaście srok za ogon, essay, Czarne 2016, 208 pages, ISBN 978-83-8049-235-6
Rights available: World
Nominated for the Polityka Passport 2016
In the UK, six million people birdwatch regularly. For many of them birdwatching is a lifelong passion; it is therefore no wonder that rare specimens occasionally trigger fistfights, fainting fits and heart attacks. Stanisław Łubieński has not fought anyone (yet) and his heart seems to be in excellent condition, but his love for birds is no less passionate. He pursues birds with an eagle eye, undiscouraged by cold, damp and discomfort. He even survived a reed bunting curse. Twelve Birds in the Bush is a natural consequence of Łubieński’s interest in nature that has its roots in his childhood. As a boy he learnt to birdwatch as a duck takes to water, first observing birds on his own through soviet binoculars and later taking his hobby to a more serious level with books and birdwatching trips to Hungary, Scandinavia and the Danube delta.
Eventually, ornithology infused and fuelled his passion for art, literature and film.
As a result, in his book Kapuściński’s wagtail and Chełmoński’s great bustards meet city sparrows. Notes taken during the search for the grave of the Prussian ornithologist Friedrich Tischler are combined with the description of a difficult but fascinating bird ringing action.
Łubieński’s book opens a vast realm of incredible sounds, colours and meanings, a complete world in which man is never alone. Łubieński reminds us that sometimes the best that we can do is look up and watch swifts flying among the buildings, stop in the park to listen to a blackbird call or think deeply on a picture or poem in which the bird is an important symbol.
This is a book for all those who suffer from Birding Compulsive Disorder but also for those who think that James Bond was just a spy with a license to kill. It will definitely charm ornithologists wanting to look beyond heavy science and birdwatching enthusiasts eager to expand their knowledge. But it will also delight all readers equipped with common curiosity, for who wouldn’t like to know what Hitchcock’s birds had in mind?
This is a book about love. It tells the story of the author’s love of birds but it is not just about him – it is also about many other people who shared his passion. Stanisław Łubieński writes in a way that brings their stories to life. He reminds us that “We need to learn that nature is everywhere. And it needs our protection.”
There are many books about birds but all those that I know focus on nature and science. This one shows birds from a humanist point of view, in a personal way but at the same time transmitting thorough knowledge. It is a book for (the growing number of) those already fascinated by birds but also readers who are not yet familiar with birdwatching and are just looking for an interesting read. They will discover the amazing world of birds and learn about their incredible shapes and behaviour but also realise how close birds are to us humans.
Professor Maciej Luniak, Museum and Institute of Zoology of the Polish Academy of Science
The main asset of this book is its versatility. Looking at birds from many points of view, Stanisław Łubieński shows us the importance of animals and reminds us that we are not the centre of the world. Humans coexist with animals and it is important to respect them as well as appreciate the fact that nature can bring us great aesthetic pleasure. And all of this is told in a subtle, interesting manner, with true love for birds.
Agnieszka Drotkiewicz, instytutksiazki.pl, 29 February 2016
This is a book about the author’s life passion. One can either read the whole thing (the narrative follows logical sequence) or jump between the most interesting fragments. Its greatest advantage is the lightness of style that makes it a delightful read – whether one likes birds or not.
Magdalena Kurek, gloskultury.pl, 30 March 2016
Twelve Birds in the Bush is a beautiful book. Łubieński’s masterful language and wonderfully crafted sentences immediately capture the reader’s heart and attention. To enjoy it, one does not need biological education; there are no detailed descriptions of birds’ neurological systems. Łubieński’s birds are rich in colour and contour; turning the pages, one may almost hear their chirps, coos and caws.
Anna Szumiec, artpapier.com, 19 April 2016
In my opinion, the best passages of Twelve Birds in the Bush are those telling the stories of various crazy bird lovers: ornithologists, researchers, birdwatchers. Łubieński is giving us some true mini-biographical pearls, such as the story of the ornithologist James Bond (whose name is no coincidence!), the author of the canonical textbook The Birds of the West Indies, or Prussian ornithologist Friedrich Tischler, who proceeded with his birdwatching under the shadow of the Second World War.
Aleksandra Lipczak, culture.pl, 5 May 2016
The Pirate of the Steppe
Pirat stepowy, reportage, Czarne 2012, 240 pages, ISBN 978-83-7536-367-8
- Croatia (DAF)
- Ukraine (V. Books)
He was sickly and small, and was said to resemble a child or an ugly woman. He was born a free man although his father had been a serf. During his christening ceremony, the Orthodox priest’s robe caught fire from the candle. The inhabitants of the steppe town of Huliaipole took this as an omen that the Antichrist had been born. He joined anarchists at an early stage of his life. He would rob and kill the rich on behalf of poor peasants and exploited labourers. Imprisoned, he was lucky to escape the gallows as the revolution broke out. Peasants thought he was a successor to Cossack atamans; they believed that he would chase away the landlords and grant them land and freedom.
Nestor Makhno, known as “Bat’ka” (Father), commanded an army of thousands upon thousands of soldiers who did not respect any authority and forcefully defended the territory inhabited by two and a half million people. He used to say: fight the Reds until they are white, fight the Whites until they are red. The black banners of Makhno’s army bore the inscription: Freedom or Death.
A beautiful story of a simple Ukrainian peasant who grew wings when the winds of history had started to blow. In the summer of 1918, Nestor Makhno formed a guerrilla group in an attic in a godforsaken village. Over the next two years, Makhno’s army routed both the Reds and the Whites in Ukraine’s steppes under the black banner of anarchism. Doomed to fail, Makhno ended up in Paris – that old people’s home and cemetery to the world’s revolutionaries. A moving story and an excellent book. (Włodzimierz Kalicki)