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Sylwia Chutnik

Sylwia Chutnik (b. 1979) is a novelist and city guide. She graduated in cultural and gender studies at Warsaw University. She is also a charity worker and chairperson of the MaMa Foundation which aims to improve the situation of mothers in Poland. She won the “Polityka Passport” prize for 2008. Her first novel was Kieszonkowy atlas kobiet (“Pocket Atlas of Women”), published in 2008. It tells the stories of four people who live in a Warsaw tenement house. It is both a novel and an original guidebook to Warsaw and to women who live there. It is also an uncompromising, feminist study of the condition of Warsaw’s poorest citizens, those most socially marginalised. In her next novel, entitled Dzidzia (Diddums, 2010), realism gives way to surrealism and the grotesque. This time Chutnik sets her story in the Warsaw suburb of Gołąbki, where a severely disabled 16-year-old girl lives with her mother. Disturbing and controversial, the novel makes the reader confront the Polish society’s hidden past and its current attitude towards women. In 2011 Chutnik published an unconventional guidebook to Warsaw, entitled Warszawa kobiet (Women’s Warsaw). In it she suggests the routes for tours of some of Warsaw’s most interesting districts, but above all she offers a walk about a city that conceals the histories of the women who once lived there, including sculptors, teachers and writers.

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