Jerzy Kosinski


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Polish-born, Russian-reared author, came to the U.S. (1957), where he was a graduate student at Columbia and began to write in English. His first novel, The Painted Bird (1965), presents a six-year-old Polish boy trapped during the German occupation, in which he suffers endless brutalities. It was followed by further spare fiction treating other violent or perverse situations: Steps (1968) presents an anonymous narrator's account of diverse cruelties; Being There (1971) is an ironic fable with a different tone in its tale of a gentle, illiterate gardener who achieves national leadership in the U.S. by chance; The Devil Tree (1973) is another fable, this one about a very rich young man seeking to find himself; Cockpit (1975) is like his other novels in avoiding a sequential plot as it tells of an ex-spy's violent acts of vengeance and quest for intimacy, mainly sexual; Blind Date (1977) is an amoral picaresque story, whose protagonist, an antihero, indulges in wild, perverse, and horrid activities; Passion Play (1979) depicts another picaresque figure, an impassioned horseman who is also an esoteric novelist; and Pinball (1982) is about a seedy musician's quest to learn the true identity of a very popular rock star. Kosinski has written two nonfictional books about people in the USSR, The Future Is Ours, Comrade (1960) and No Third Path (1962), under the name Joseph Novak. Kosinski taught at Yale (1970–73).

Subjects: Literature.

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