Review of Różewicz’s Mother Departs in The Independent

‘Every mother’s son – and daughter – will appreciate this powerful chorus of family memories…Published in 1999, when it won Poland’s leading literary award, Mother Departs also champions Rózewicz’s aesthetic of assembled voices…These fragments are simply, poetically, put together. The cumulative effect is astonishing… powerful and poignant. Barbara Bogoczek’s translation is excellent, as is Tony Howard’s informative introduction. This is a book for anyone who has ever had a mother.’ James Hopkin, The Independent 


More praise for Tadeusz Różewicz’s Mother Departs

Winner of the 2000 Nike Prize, Poland’s most prestigious literary award

‘One of the great European poets of the twentieth century’ Seamus Heaney

‘Tadeusz Różewicz is a great anti-poet whose poems have the clipped, intense feel of phrases exchanged in wartime. He sends messages from underground that are like jammed radio signals. Though he would not agree, he has succeeded in writing poetry after Auschwitz.’ Tom Paulin

‘The last living truly great Polish poet’ James Hopkin, The Guardian

‘It’s an effective collection, switching from personal reminiscence to the immediacy of diary-entries…The collection has a fragmentary feel — much ends (and some begins) with ellipses, to underline that fact — and readers might wish for more filling in the blanks in this century-spanning work, but there’s a satisfying wholeness to the text as is. A touching, often fascinating — and very personal — work.’ M.A. Orthofer, Complete Review

‘a quite remarkable memoir of a family, of Poland in the twentieth century and of life, and death.’ A Discount Ticket to Everywhere

‘we witness the anguish of a man looking at  his mother fading away. Both Herbert and Rózewicz, in two completely different styles, narrate with an impeccable choice of words the last days in the life of their mothers. Heartbreaking yes, but the literary value of these books lay within the ability of these authors to talk about death with great beauty.’ Literati 

‘a portrait of, and a homage to, a woman – but also to a country and a time.  You see, as much as it talks about Stefania, Mother Departs talks to the reader about a shared past.  It’s easy to see why it won the Nike Prize – it’s not so much the private memories of a mother, as a collective, nostalgic look at what has been lost.’ Tony’s Reading List


Read Basia Bogoczek’s reflections on translating Mother Departs.

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