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Hanna Krall is the most renowned living nonfiction writer in Poland. Born in Warsaw in 1935, Krall obtained a journalism degree from the University of Warsaw. She debuted as a reporter in the mid 1950s, writing for the Polish daily Życie Warszawy (Life of Warsaw),and later published in the prestigious weekly magazine Polityka. In 1972, she published her first book, Heading East from Arbat, based on her experiences in the Soviet Union. Krall was forced to leave Polityka in 1981 after martial law had been declared. For a while she worked at a Warsaw film studio, TOR, while she continued to publish in underground presses. Since the fall of communism in 1989, Krall has been associated with the major Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, founded by opposition leader Adam Michnik. Krall’s books have won numerous journalism awards in Poland. Since the 1990s, they have also appeared regularly on lists of best nonfiction titles in Germany. Krall has had so many followers in her native country that the very way we might describe something as Kafkaesque, the term “Krallism” has been coined in Polish. Outside of Poland, Krall is best known for her book Shielding the flame (or To Outwit God), a book of reportage based on Krall’s interviews with Marek Edelman, a Holocaust survivor and a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Photo: Krzysztof Dubiel