The Palimpsests

The Palimpsests, originally written in Spanish by Polish newcomer Aleksandra Lun, is a satirical novel about immigration, senses of cultural belonging and ownership, and personal relationships to language: complicated and simple, adopted and native. The book opens with the protagonist, Przesnicki, an Eastern-European immigrant writer, languishing in a Belgian asylum while undergoing “Bartlebian therapy” meant to strip away his knowledge of any language that is not Polish, his native tongue. Przesnicki recalls his former life of long Soviet toilet paper lines, the loss of his lover Ernest Hemingway following a passionate affair, and the beatings of the territorial Antarctic literary community for his forays into novel-writing in their language. The story is filled with darkly comic cameos from famous writers like Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Conrad, and of course, Przesnicki’s former lover Ernest Hemingway; it is the perfect book for lovers of language and those interested in exploring ideas of cultural translation in the modern day.

Aleksandra Lun (Gliwice, Poland, 1979) lived in Spain between 1999 and 2010. She studied Spanish Language and Literature, interpreting, and translation. She currently lives in Belgium, where she works as a translator. She translates into her mother-tongue, Polish, from English, French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, and Romanian. Los Palimpsestos (The Palimpsests), written in Spanish, is her first book.

Elizabeth Bryer is a translator and writer. In 2017 she was a recipient of a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant to translate Aleksandra Lun’s The Palimpsests. Other translations from Spanish include Claudia Salazar Jiménez’s Blood of the Dawn, winner of the 2014 Americas Prize. Her debut novel, From Here On, Monsters, is out with Picador.