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Author: Krzysztof Czyżewski

A writer and war. Karahasan, the rebel

Dževad Karahazan’s rebellion was the result of his refusal to live imprisoned in a world of absolute truths, which are fed on the fear of others. He was not an idealist. He experienced real evil. He chose the life of a writer who diligently collected the remains of the wisdom of bridge builders.

When I learnt about the passing of the Bosnian writer, essayist and philosopher Dževad Karahasan, I could immediately feel the taste and smell of the Bosnian meat stew dagara. In our lives there are meetings that leave permanent marks on us. Regardless of when and where they take place, they come back to us as if they were real again.

February 7, 2024 - Krzysztof Czyżewski

A female voice from Sarajevo

In post-war Sarajevo a war is waged to win the future which had been taken away by the living ghosts of the past. The frontlines are nonetheless changing and now different people are pushed underground, stigmatised and treated as if they do not belong to the community. The ethnic and religious war has been replaced by a new culture war.

Some time ago, when the bloody Balkan war was still raging in Sarajevo, poet Izet Sarajlić, editor Čedo Kisić and professor Zdravko Grebo were explaining their world to me. None of them is alive anymore. Neither is Isak Samokovlija, a prominent Bosnian Jewish writer, whose stories took me to the most hidden corners of Sarajevo’s historical centre, Baščaršija, as well as the Grbavica and Bentbaša districts. I was listening to the stories of the writers and artists who had left Sarajevo, but who were still under its influence. They included Dževad Karahazan in Graz, Josip Osti in Ljubljana, Miljenko Jergović in Zagreb, and Nino Žalica in Amsterdam…

September 12, 2021 - Krzysztof Czyżewski

The drama of the Polish outsider

The Polish psyche is affected by the tragic conflict between what is ours and not ours. This huge dissonance stems from the fact that the outsider is a native: both come from the same country, share a nationality, live among their own people and, at times, inhabit the same person. Hence, Poles’ attitude towards others, to a great extent, arises from their inner struggle with “the outsider within”.
“Pretty. Shame it’s not ours.” This sentence is uttered by one of the characters of Zimna wojna (Cold War), a film directed by Paweł Pawlikowski. An audience unfamiliar with the intricacies of Polish culture will find it hard to recognise the drama lurking behind these seemingly innocent words. Ours, in this context, is Polish, not ours is part of the Lemko people’s cultural heritage.

January 28, 2020 - Krzysztof Czyżewski

Building co-existence: Part II

This piece originally appeared in Issue 6/2016 of New Eastern Europe. Subscribe now.

January 4, 2017 - Krzysztof Czyżewski


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