Skip to content
cover image for

Brilliant work. How did the Nobel Committee manage to overlook Herling?

Kirkus Reviews

Short stories by Poland's greatest writer, and survivor of WWII Soviet labor prison camps.


The Noonday Cemetery

Fiction by Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski

translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston

The Noonday Cemetery & Other Stories, selected by Herling himself shortly before his death in 2000, are the 15 most representative and accomplished stories of the last two decades of his life. Contained herein are: "The Noonday Cemetery," in which the widow of a WWII German officer and a cemetery custodian are both shot to death unexplainably; "Beata Santa," about a Polish woman raped by Serbs and pressured to keep her child; "A Hot Breath of the Desert," describing the lives of an archeologist couple, who settle down in the idyllic region of Lucania, until the wife (who’s witnessed WWII’s horrors), mysteriously loses her memory; and "A Madrigal of Mourning," in which a woman musicologist falls in love with Carlo Gesualdo (1560-1613), Prince of Venosa, a madrigalist and murderer. Gustaw Herling’s memoir A World Apart is among the most powerful accounts of life in the Soviet gulag. And since Herling’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 said that Herling is "a writer of stylistic mastery and moral depth, who deserves to be placed among the best in any language."

published May 1st, 2003