An eye-catching new book introducing Polish culture to English-language readers
Can you distil the essence of a country into just 100 words? We think so.
In December 2018, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute’s Culture.pl team sent their first book to the printer’s. Written by Mikołaj Gliński, Matthew Davies and Adam Żuławski, “Quarks, Elephants & Pierogi: Poland in 100 Words” is made up of a series of 100 illustrations and articles that each discuss all sorts of Polish words, such as miłość (love), imieniny (name day), ojczyzna (fatherland), wolność (freedom), and even filiżanka (tea cup). Often via etymology, each word is an entry point to the multi-layered world of Polish culture and history.
Geared towards English-language readers, especially those with some Polish ancestry, those who pick up the book should find it a fun and innovative introduction to a country with one of most unusual histories out there. It’ll also show them how languages intersect and whole cultures arise, and make readers realise just how interwoven our world is.
Along the way, they’ll find out why quarks are made from curd cheese, learn what elephants have to do with a Central European country, and discover how pierogi saved an entire town. Plus, they’ll get to enjoy 100 illustrations by Polish graphic designer Magdalena Burdzyńska
“We wanted to make something that was both information-rich and a feast for the eyes,” the book’s editor Adam Żuławski explains. “Magda Burdzyńska, a highly-respected book designer and illustrator, managed to be the perfect visual foil to the dense yet often tongue-in-cheek texts that we had prepared. It even has a tongue that sticks out, and a poster in the back. So whether you want to learn something surprising or just admire something beautiful, the book should hit the mark.”
Published by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute operating under the Culture.pl brand as part of the international cultural programme POLSKA 100 accompanying Poland’s centenary of regaining independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017-2022