In one of the first scholarly book in English on Miron Białoszewski (1922–1983), Joanna Niżyńska illuminates the elusive prose of one of the most compelling and challenging postwar Polish writers. Niżyńska’s study, exemplary in its use of theoretical concepts, introduces English-language readers to a preeminent voice of Polish literature. Niżyńska explores how a fusion of seemingly irreconcilable qualities, such as the traumatic and the everyday, imbues Białoszewski’s writing with its idiosyncratic appeal.
Białoszewski’s A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising (1977, revised 1991) describes the Poles’ heroic struggle to liberate Warsaw from Nazi occupation in 1944 as harrowing yet ordinary. His later prose represents everyday life permeated by traces of the traumatic. Niżyńska closely examines the topic of autobiography and homosexuality, showing how Białoszewski discloses his homosexuality but, paradoxically, renders it inconspicuous by hiding it in plain sight.
"... an incisive, deeply analytical reading of the work of one of Poland’s most important authors of the twentieth century." —Slavonic and East European Review
"...Niżyńska paves the way for a superb, although obscure, writer to be better understood and appreciated by English-language readers." —Slavic Review
"Undoubtedly, The Kingdom of Insignificance will prove to be an invaluable resource for scholars of Polish literature. It is a significant addition to both Białoszewskian studies—which is quite minimal, especially in English—and to queer Polish literary studies—an area which is steadily growing but is still in need of development. When necessary Niżyńska provides concise, thorough historical context, and often in a relaxed narrative style that makes it approachable for those readers unfamiliar with Polish history. Happily it is not, however, simply a history or literary biography. It is an incisive, deeply analytical reading of the work of one of Poland’s most important authors of the twentieth century. —Slavic and East European Review