The Painted Bird

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Grove Press, 1976 - Fiction - 234 pages
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Originally published in 1965, The Painted Bird established Jerzy Kosinski as a major literary figure. Kosinski's story follows a dark-haired, olive-skinned boy, abandoned by his parents during World War II, as he wanders alone from one village to another, sometimes hounded and tortured, only rarely sheltered and cared for. Through the juxtaposition of adolescence and the most brutal of adult experiences, Kosinski sums up a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess where senseless violence and untempered hatred are the norm. Through sparse prose and vivid imagery, Kosinski's novel is a story of mythic proportion, even more relevant to today's society than it was upon its original publication.

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About the author (1976)

Jerzy Kosinski, 1933 - 1991 Novelist Jerzy Kosinski was born June 8, 1933, in Poland to Russian parents who had fled the Revolution. In 1939, he was separated from his family when the Nazi's invaded, and he wandered through villages for six years, surviving by his wits. In shock, he remained mute from the age of nine to fourteen. He was finally reunited with his family and attains a professorship at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. In 1957, Kosinski arrived in New York with his Polish passport, little money and a cyanide capsule after creating four fictional professors who recommend him for a nonexistent foundation grant. He learned to speak fluent English in four months and within a year, had begun work on a study of the collective mentality called "The Future is Ours, Comrade." He published this under the pen name Joseph Novak and had his writing recommended to him by fellow students at Columbia University. He won the National Book Award for the novel "Steps" and his other novels include "Being There, "The Devil Tree," "Cockpit," and "Blind Date." "Blind Date" tells the story of the Manson killings, which is where Kosinski would have been, with his friends on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, if he had not been stuck in JFK Airport dealing with mis-tagged luggage. He writes about the killings not because they were his friends, but to show how unpredictable life is. In 1968, after six years of marriage, his wife Mary died of brain cancer. He committed suicide on May 3, 1991 at the age of 58.

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