The Krakow Diaries

75 days in Krakow. On a literary grant from the German Kulturstiftung der Länder. In the Guesthouse of the 16th century Villa Decius, with 10 other writers from Poland, Germany, Belarussia, Ukraine and Georgia. Beautiful city. Nice Krakovians. Fun nightlife. Beautiful women. And in the guesthouse: Meetings of the minds. Too much vodka. Good friends. One of the great pleasures of my life.

Most Intense Writer: Mirosław ("Mirek") Nahacz

When we talk about Mirek, we're talking about hardcore cool.

The first thing we came to understand about this Warsaw Pole is that he has the physiology of an alien. He starts in on beer early in the morning (that is, when he wakes up, which in the beginning at least was not early in the morning). Then he plugs speakers into his laptop and turns up the screaming thumping techno-whatever music he listens to. Then he can start working. (He also DJed for us on our Vodka Nights.) By the time he is through working in the evening (and he really sits in his room and works all day), he is ready to do some real drinking, so he calls his pals in Cracow and off they go until early in the morning (in this case I mean early in the morning in absolute terms).

But he got more work done than all of us put together. Before our very eyes, he wrote the entirety of his fourth novel - in three months. We were astounded and jealous. To do this, he stepped up the pace. Toward the end, in the last month, he would really get up early in the morning – 6am or 7am. We could tell because the bass shook the entire house. And he would work. When he was finished, in the end of November, he printed it out, read a few pages of it before an audience in the Lokator, and went off and partied with his friends until it was time to get on a train to Warsaw in the morning (and, a few weeks after that, onto the plane for India, where he was determined to experience something life-altering).

Mirek's first book was about young party life in Warsaw, something he clearly knows a lot about, and it was his biggest hit. The next two novels were more ambitious, though less popular: he described them to me as somewhat surrealistic.

Mirek is 22.

His fourth novel, the one he finished in Cracow, is the most ambitious of all: It is the attempt to combine pop with art. This is something I dreamed of as a kid and probably something a lot of young writers today dream of: Take a story as exciting and popular as an airplane novel and write in a language fit for Shakespeare. (I always wanted to do that with a sword and sorcery novel in the style of Conan. It didn’t work out.) He calls it - I think – "The Amazing Tale of Robert Rubber."

But the coolest thing about him is love. Not only did he get into a fight with the presenter at his reading over love – the presenter felt that love was a bit corny and things like politics were more important, while Mirek made clear that in his opinion love is the most important thing of all.
We had also been speculating for some time about the tattoo on his arm with the name "Ania" over a heart. On his last weekend, we traveled with him to Warsaw, where Katja and Tanja were to hold a reading that weekend.

At the reading, he showed up to with a young woman who seemed very happy to have him back again. When I asked her if she had any tattoos anywhere, she flashed her midriff, and suddenly everything fell into place.


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