Friday Blog Jan 20 – Scottish – Polish Book Club

Today’s blog is from Krystyna

Zielony Balonik

The Little Green Balloon Book Club

 Zielony Balonik (the Little Green Balloon) happened in October 1905 at Jan Michalik’s Cukiernia Lwowska (the Lviv pastry shop), in the Ulica Floriańska off the main square in Kraków.  It was the name given to a cabaret, which brought the arts scene in Kraków together with a new energy.  A fin de siècle art nouveau café interior was arranged with the furniture, paintings, and stained glass windows all in the same style. The cabaret lasted until 1912, but its legacy has remained and the café is still a favourite venue in Kraków.

The Zielony Balonik book club was set up in March 2006 its main focus being the reading of contemporary Polish literature.  The name was taken to embrace the legacy of the cabaret in the early 20th century beforePoland became independent once more and to take it forward in a modern way.  The Green Balloon represents to us the free floating of ideas expressed in literature and increasingly available to all in the era of modern communications.  A virtual cabaret.  It is a Scottish Polish initiative with selected books read in either English or Polish taking advantage of the increased availability of Polish literature translated into English.  Our current members live in Edinburgh and Glasgow and we meet every two months alternating between the two cities.

Our list of books is growing steadily.  On a trip to Kraków in 2010 we were able to discuss FADO with Andrzej Stasiuk as guests of the Limanowa Book Club; and our other authors have included Olga Tokarczuk (HOUSE OF DAY, HOUSE OF NIGHT; Pawel Huelle (MERCEDES BENZ and THE LAST SUPPER); Dorota Maslowska (WHITE AND RED); Eva Stachniak (NECESSARY LIES); Ryszard Kapuszinski (IMPERIUM and THE EMPEROR); Josef Tarnowski and Raymond Raszkowski Ross (WALKING WITH SHADOWS); Ewa Hoffman (THE SECRET); Jenny Robertson (DON’T GO TO UNCLE’S WEDDING); Marek Krajewski (DEATH IN BRESLAU) and Antoni Libera (MADAME).  In 2011 we read UNDER WESTERN EYES by Joseph Conrad; WARSAW TALES by Jenny Robertson, STONE UPON STONE by Wiesław Mysliwski; IN SEARCH OF LOST MEANING by Adam Michnik and IN RED by Magdalena Tulli.  Also we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Czesław Miłosz with poetry readings and Ken Cockburn successfully led a series of workshops in Scottish schools.

Our first book for 2012 is THE POLISH COMPLEX by Tadeusz Konwicki.

If you are interested to join us in our reading then please contact Krystyna Szumelukowa on this e-mail address:


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