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Author: Rafał Wojasiński

Translator: Charles S. Kraszewski

In Rafał Wojasiński’s new engaging masterpiece Tefil, we come across a curious – and eerie – situation. A young man named Rozmaryn finds a photograph depicting his mother in the company of a stranger.

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In Rafał Wojasiński’s new engaging masterpiece Tefil, we come across a curious – and eerie – situation. A young man named Rozmaryn finds a photograph depicting his mother in the company of a stranger. He lost both his parents at an early age, and never even knew his mother. So he sets off in search of that stranger, and this leads him to one of the most articulate, yet unsettling and possibly mentally handicapped characters as can be found anywhere in literature: Tefil. A balding and somewhat odiferous inhabitant of a garret flat in a sleepy town somewhere in Poland, never married, Tefil, who spent his working years as a village factotum, now exists as something of a self-interested Oxfam bin collecting the clothes of the dead. He also goes to extreme lengths to avoid paying back insignificant debts and cadging pastries, coffee, and sometimes alcoholic dinners, from passers-by to whom he attaches himself like a tick. He also philosophises, disparaging the sense of human life, and singing a paean to “all-conquering mould”, which is the only living creature that cannot be destroyed (supposedly, it even survives being eaten and digested), and which is fated to overcome – to consume – all other life, including man and his civilisation. How does that make us feel, as human beings ourselves?

Rafał Wojasiński’s character is challenging, repulsive, and yet fatally attractive. Like Rozmaryn, we cannot tear ourselves away from his rushing stream of words and ideas, which fascinate us while filling us with existential dread. But is Tefil serious? Or is he just spilling an unending yarn, talking for the sake of hearing his unquestionably spellbinding voice? One hopes it is the latter, and it just might be. For Tefil is a poetic novel, something in the line of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake; something of a literary equivalent to absolute music and non-representational painting. Standing before Wojasiński’s puzzling canvas, hearing his dissonant composition through to the end, the reader might be left bewildered – but will certainly not find his time spent with Tefil unrewarding.





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Rafał Wojasiński (born 1974) is a celebrated author of fiction and drama. Among his works are Złodziej ryb (The Fish Thief, 2004), Stara (The Old Woman, 2011), and Olanda (2018), as well as the plays Długie życie (A Long Life, 2017), Dziad Kalina (Old Man Kalina, 2018), and Siostry (Sisters, 2019). Many of his dramatic works have also been performed as radio plays; his philosophical novel Stara was adapted for the Polish Radio Theatre by Waldemar Modestowicz. His works have been translated into English, French, Spanish, and Bulgarian, and have been consistently nominated for prestigious literary awards, among others: the Gdynia Dramaturgical Award (for Siostry, 2019), the Marek Nowakowski Literary Award (also 2019, for Olanda), and the Award of the Capital City of Warsaw (2022, for Tefil).


Charles S. Kraszewski (born 1962) is a poet and translator, creative in both English and Polish. He is the author of three volumes of original verse in English (Diet of Nails; Beast; Chanameed), and two in Polish (Hallo, Sztokholm; Skowycik). He also authored a satirical novel Accomplices, You Ask? (San Francisco: Montag, 2021); his novel At the Tone is forthcoming in 2024. He translates from Polish (among others, Wojasiński’s Olanda – published by Glagoslav in 2019), Czech and Slovak into English, and from English and Spanish into Polish. He is a member of the Union of Polish Writers Abroad (London) and of the Association of Polish Writers (SPP, Kraków). In 2022 he was awarded the Gloria Artis medal (III Class) by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland, and in 2023 the ZAiKS award for translations into a foreign language by the Polish Society of Authors (ZAiKS).

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Rafał Wojasiński


210 pages

Book Format

Hardcover, Paperback, EPUB, Kindle

Publication date

29th June 2024

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