A special dispatch from PEN Atlas this week features two stories by Sławomir Mrożek, the Polish author and cartoonist who died last month, and who will be fondly remembered for his surreal and subversive work.
Sławomir Mrożek (29 June 1930 – 15 August 2013) was a leading Polish dramatist, writer and cartoonist. In 1963 Mrożek emigrated to Italy and France and then to Mexico. In 1996 he returned to Poland and settled in Kraków. In 2008 he moved back to France.
Sławomir Mrożek reigned as the preeminent playwright and satirist of Eastern Europe for the past half century. He debuted in 1958 with a play Policja (The Police). Mrożek’s plays, now considered classics, were welcomed immediately by both stage directors and the public. He gained world fame in 1964 with the play Tango.
Mrożek was a sharp critic of all oppressive systems during the Cold War. Bordering on the absurd with its combination of humour, wit, and the grotesque, his work transgressed political and economic systems, revealing both their universality and their nonsensical aspects.