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The Noonday Cemetery & Other Stories
by Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski
translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
New Directions, June 2003

Here are 15 of Herling-Grudzinski’s most representative and accomplished short stories, selected by the author himself shortly before his death. In the title story a WWII German officer’s widow and a cemetery custodian are inexplicably shot to death. In others, a Polish woman raped by Serbs is pressured to keep her child; an archeologist’s wife who witnessed the war’s horrors mysteriously loses her memory; and a musicologist falls in love with a madrigalist and murderer. In his stories, noted for their “original traditionalism”, Herling-Grudzinski traces the individual fate that marks each person's private road toward reconciliation with death.

Since Herling-Grudzinski's collection of interlinked novellas, The Island, was published to great acclaim in 1993, the number of American readers of this writer "of extraordinary talent and scope" (Louis Begley, The New York Times Book Review) has grown. The Boston Globe has called him "a writer of stylistic mastery and moral depth, who deserves to be placed among the best in any language."