House of Day, House of Night
Nowa Ruda is a small town in Silesia, an area that has been a part of Poland, Germany, and the former Czechoslovakia in the past. When the narrator moves into the area, she discovers everyone--and everything--has a story. With the help of Marta, her enigmatic neighbor, the narrator accumulates these stories, tracing the history of Nowa Ruda from the its founding to the lives of its saints, from the caller who wins the radio quiz every day to the man who causes international tension when he dies straddling the border between Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Each of the stories represents a brick and they interlock to reveal the immense monument that is the town. What emerges is the message that the history of any place--no matter how humble--is limitless, that by describing or digging at the roots of a life, a house, or a neighborhood, one can see all the connections, not only with one's self and one's dreams but also with all of the universe.
Richly imagined, weaving anecdote with recipes and gossip, Tokarczuk's novel is an epic of a small place. Since its publication in 1998 it has remained a bestseller in Poland. House of Day, House of Night is the English-language debut of one of Europe's best young writers.
"[A] delight to read--wonderfully inventive and by turns comic, tragic and wise. Tokarczuk's prose is simple and unadorned. She tells her stories with a natural fluency that easily accommodates the hopes, drudgery and absurdities of the world she is describing. Real lives mingle with the imagined, dreams with day, past with present in an entirely plausible way." --The Observer