The Mysterious Bookshop

Bursa, Andrzej, Killing Auntie

Disaffected university student Jurek struggles to dispose of the corpse of his aunt—a "very, very good woman" whom he murdered, for no apparent logical reason, with two hammer blows to the head—in this deliciously wicked novel by the late Polish author Bursa, who died at age 25. In an introduction to the book from the publisher, readers are guided to read the story, which was first published in 1969, as "a commentary on the political situation of 1950s Poland." While an allegorical framework would certainly help to explain some of the book's surrealistic elements—and particularly its turn toward dream logic in the final chapters—contemporary readers will also find plenty to enjoy (one sequence of unwitting cannibalism is particularly memorable) in the story itself. It amounts to a sustained tirade against what Jurek calls the "thousands of days, thousands of hours, during which nothing ever happens." As he makes various attempts to get rid of his aunt's body—the reader will find surprising sympathy for this odd character.

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We are devoted to all things mysterious, from hard-boiled hardcovers to pulpy paperbacks, suspected signings and whispers around town.

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