A.M. Bakalar – Britain’s Poles Are Paying Their Way
‘LONDON — “You are not from here,” I heard during a recent visit to my hometown, Wroclaw, in Poland, while I was out for a drink one evening with friends. “What do you mean? I was born here,” I said, surprised.
“You speak Polish,” said my interlocutor, thoughtfully, “but there’s something strange about you, something different.”
It left me wondering if I was in danger of becoming an immigrant in my own country. Or even whether I would discover — back home in London — that I wasn’t really Polish anymore.
For migrants everywhere, the question of belonging is often fraught, sometimes vexing. Like many Poles, I am dismayed by recent remarks about immigration from Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron. Britain’s membership in the European Union meant that restrictions on the free movement of workers from the newer member states Bulgaria and Romania were lifted on Jan. 1. In response, Mr. Cameron introduced a series of measures — with rhetoric to match — aimed at discouraging a fresh round of immigration.’
A.M. Bakalar was born and raised in Poland. Madame Mephisto is her first novel and was among readers recommendations to the 2012 Guardian First Book Award. She is the first Polish woman to publish a novel in English since Poland joined EU in 2004. A.M. Bakalar lives with her partner, a drum and bass musician, in London. She is currently at work on her second novel.