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The Wall in My Head:
Words & Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain
edited by Words without Borders

Open Letter Books, November 2009


To mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain, and to shed some light on how it came to pass, the online magazine Words without Borders presents The Wall in My Head, an exciting anthology that features fiction, essays, images, and original documents in order to pick up where most popular accounts of the Cold War end and trace the path of the revolutionary spirit of 1989 from its origins to the present day. It combines work from the generation of writers and artists who witnessed the collapse of Communism firsthand with impressions and reflections by those who grew up in its wake, providing a unique view onto the change, optimism, and confusion that came with 1989 and how these have weathered the twenty years since that fateful year. The collection features Polish authors Zbigniew Herbert, Pawel Huelle, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Dorota Maslowska, and Andrzej Stasiuk, along with a host of others, including Mircea Cartarescu, Peter Esterhazy, Milan Kundera, Victor Pelevin, Peter Schneider, Vladimir Sorokin, Uwe Tellekamp, and Dubravka Ugresic.

Published by Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester, the anthology includes Dorota Maslowska’s essay, Faraway, So Gross, translated by Benjamin Paloff, which was commissioned by Deutsches Haus at NYU with support from the Polish Cultural Institute and the Polish Book Institute; it originally appeared in German translation in Signale aus der Bleecker Street 3, edited by Bernd Hüppauf (2008).


The clothes I wore, the peeling wallpaper and the furniture losing its luster, the food and the dishes we ate it on, buildings, shoes, sidewalks. Memory is slush, a muddy puddle in which the little ships of things now sink, now surface triumphantly. I remember Communism exclusively as a style and an aesthetic category.
- Dorota Maslowska, from Faraway, So Gross, trans. Benjamin Paloff.

The editors have arranged these high-caliber works to create a tension between celebratory and somber writing, and that gives the book a touch of greatness. From one chapter to the next you never know when in time or where on the map you’ll land next. – The Brooklyn Rail.

Words without Borders
is a nonprofit organization with an online magazine featuring works in translation from around the world. Each month it publishes a new "themed" issue that focuses either on a place or topic, and highlights some of the most interesting contemporary writing. The editors of Words without Borders have been involved in the publication of two other international anthologies: Literature from the "Axis of Evil" (New Press, 2006) and Words without Borders: The World through the Eyes of Writers (Anchor Books, 2007). wordswithoutborders.org.

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