This post is a work in progress–a response to many of your requests. I promise to update it with portraits of the chief characters of Catherine’s court who appear in Empress of the Night.Read More
As an Evergreen Award Nominee I was asked for a guest blog on the importance of libraries in my life. Here is what I wrote for Open Book Ontario:
Libraries have always been an essential part of my life. In the Poland of my childhood books were inexpensive, but the most popular ones disappeared from bookstores as soon as they arrived, and thus a library offered the best chance to get them. Libraries were plentiful, though ruled much more sternly than the Canadian libraries I use now. A librarian, even the most friendly one, was a custodian of vast, inaccessible bookshelves, a censor who might decide that a book I craved was “too serious” for me and refuse to let me take it home.
This is my latest blog on Writing Historical Novels:
Memoirs and letters are a historical writer’s cherished source. They provide the authentic voices of the past, not only facts and gossip, but rare insight into the thoughts of people long gone.
Writers of memoirs and letters differ vastly, and the work of some is much more precious than others.
This interview originally appeared on Open Book Toronto on March 17, 2011:
Andrew J. Borkowski was born and raised in Toronto’s Roncesvalles Village. He studied Journalism and English Literature at Carleton University. As a freelance journalist, he has published articles in the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Forum, Quill & Quire, TV Guide and the Los Angeles Times. His short fiction has appeared in Grain, The New Quarterly and in Storyteller magazine. His short story “Twelve Versions of Lech,” which appears in Copernicus Avenue, was nominated for the 2007 Writer’s Trust/McClelland and Stewart Journey Prize and published in Journey Prize Stories 19.
In April of 2011, Cormorant Books will publish Copernicus Avenue, Andrew Borkowski’s debut collection of short stories. In the publisher’s words:
Set primarily in the neighbourhood of fictional Copernicus Avenue … is a daring, modern take on life in Toronto’s Polish community in the years following World War II. Featuring a cast of young and old, artists and soldiers, visionaries and madmen, the forgotten and the unforgettable, Copernicus Avenue captures, with bold and striking prose, the spirit of a people who have travelled to a new land, not to escape old grudges and atrocities, but to conquer them.
Andrew Borkowski’s richly textured stories take us through the streets and backalleys of Toronto’s Little Poland into the hearts of characters caught between the memories of the European bloodlands and the temptations of the Canadian Dream. Passionate, intelligent, and impeccably crafted, Copernicus Avenue is — in its essence — a Toronto book.Read More
This review originally appeared in Cosmopolitan Review on October 9th, 2011:
From the very beginning Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness – a powerful and intensely moving film that leaves you wondering about the very essence of human morality – evokes the presence of Marek Edelman. The film is not only dedicated to Edelman – the legendary leader of the 1943 armed Jewish revolt against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto – but its piercingly human scenes evoke the passages of Edelman’s book: “And there was love, too, in the ghetto…”
When I interviewed Agnieszka Holland for CR, I asked her about the film’s dedication.
“Marek Edelman was important for me, very close,” she said. “We have been friends in spite of the difference of generations. He always very much wanted me and Andrzej Wajda to make a film about love in the ghetto. We promised him to participate in such a movie if it ever became available.”
And this is what she did.Read More
I am often asked about the inspiration for “The Winter Palace.”
I am Canadian, but I am also Polish and in the Polish consciousness, Catherine the Great has always held a prominent place. This powerful and enigmatic woman whose love life intrigues and shocks generation after generation has crushed Poland and changed the course of her history.
I was drawn to Catherine for some time. Like me, she is an immigrant who had to re-invent herself, a German princess who came to Russia when she was fourteen. She is a powerful woman who survived and triumphed in a misogynous world and her presence towered over the eighteenth century Europe, the time I find irresistible.Read More