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Wojciech Chmielarz

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Wojciech Chmielarz’s Pre-Festival Interview


Wojciech Chmielarz (born 1984 in Gliwice), one of the most popular Polish crime writers, arrived at the world of literature through journalism – he was editor-in-chief of the website dealing with security issues, terrorism, organised crime, and economic intelligence. This journalistic background – meticulousness and discipline in the presentation of facts as well as attachment to realism – were visible in his debut novel Podpalacz (The Arsonist, 2012), the first novel in the five-part series about Commissioner Jakub Mortka; the series also includes Farma lalek (Dolls’ Farm, 2013), Przejęcie (Takeover, 2014), Osiedle marzeń (Dream Estate, 2016), and Cienie (Shadows). For his Takeover, Chmielarz received the prestigious ‘Nagroda Wielkiego Kalibru’ award in 2015 for the best Polish crime novel. Chmielarz is a creative and searching writer – each part of the detective series about Commissioner Mortka is different: Dolls’ Farm displays elements of a horror novel, Takeover is a narratively complex story about the global drug trade, Dream Estate sets an atmosphere reminiscent of a domestic thriller. In turn, the books from the next series started by Chmielarz, the so-called Gliwice series (Wampir (Vampire) – 2015, Zombie – 2017), play teasingly with the classic motif of noir fiction: the figure of the private detective. The main character of these stories, detective Dawid Wolski (one of the most interesting creations in the contemporary Polish crime scene) is a failure, a liar, and a pathological layabout, but when he gets into trouble, the reader feels an empathic connection with him – and that’s thanks to Chmielarz, a brilliant master of multi-layered intrigues, suspense, and developing reliable characters. In recent years, the author has abandoned his literary series in favour of independent novels; he has also changed – once again – his writing interests a little by moving away from the crime novel to a moral and psychological thriller. It was a good move: Żmijowisko (Vipers’ Den, 2018), Rana (Wound, 2019), and Wyrwa (Breach, 2020) turned out to be bestsellers. Moreover, Vipers’ Den was filmed in 2019 as a five-episode series by Canal+ (Chmielarz was a co-writer), while a feature film based on Breach will soon be made. In the autumn of 2020, Chmielarz’s latest novel Prosta sprawa (Simple Matter) will be published; the book was written (and published online) in episodes, live, during the pandemic lockdown.


Interview with Wojciech Chmielarz

EU-China-litfest 04: Horror, Thrillers and Crime – Beyond the Genre