Cover Image: I’d Like to Say Sorry, but There’s No One to Say Sorry To

I’d Like to Say Sorry, but There’s No One to Say Sorry To

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Member Reviews

“I’d Like to Say Sorry, but There’s No One to Say Sorry To” is a collection of (very) short stories by Mikołaj Grynberg.  These are fictionalized brief conversations about the Jewish experience in Poland, for those that lived through the Holocaust and (mostly) those who have come afterwards.

Each new story brings us a different voice.  We see people who have hidden their Jewishness, people who haven’t discovered their background until late in life, people who blame the author for causing trouble and stirring up history that is best left unsaid.  Some of the stories are sad, some are a bit humorous, all are poignant in their own way.

I guess I have mixed feelings about this book, being a gentile whose family came from Poland, who still has family in Poland whom I visit frequently.  I know that what Mr. Grynberg writes is true, is still happening in Poland and around the world.  I know that it’s necessary to tell these stories, to capture these voices.  I know that this is supposed to make me feel uncomfortable, and it succeeds in doing so.  I find myself constantly saying “but what about….” and trying to tell the other side of the story.  But the other side is captured elsewhere, let us hear what this side, the uncomfortable side, has to tell us.

I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from The New Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
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I really appreciate the format Mikołaj Grynberg chose to tell these stories. Each one was powerful, honest and emotionally charged. This collection is hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking. These stories do not hold back or sugar coat the truth of what it is like to be Jewish in modern day Poland. It brings attention to generational trauma experienced by Jews in Poland in the aftermath of the Holocaust. It also explores intergenerational relationships and relationships between Jews and gentiles in Poland. The further I progressed through the stories, the harder it was for me to put it down. It was honest, upsetting, and beautifully written. I’d Like to Say Sorry, but There’s No One to Say Sorry To is so important and relevant today and will continue to be relevant tomorrow. Mikołaj Grynberg is showing how important it is that nothing like the Holocaust should ever happen again.

The translation for this edition was very well done and captured the raw beauty that I imagine is even more powerful in the original Polish it was translated from. I intend to read this book again as soon as I am able to and I really hope people give this compilation of stories a chance.
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I enjoyed reading this novel! The writing was solid and the plot was intriguing. I look forward to reading another of this author’s  books!
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4/5 stars

This book was beautiful. We hear so much about how the world was during the Holocaust and the way the world was right after, especially the climate in America and England. But this book gave a new perspective that was eye opening. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was thankful for everything it taught me.
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Haunting (very) short stories about the stain of antisemitism remaining in Poland and shadow of its complicity in the Holocaust that has tainted the nation to this day. Absolutely stunning. Cannot recommend enough.
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Excellent. I hope more of his work get translated into English. As a short-story fan, I really liked this collection. I'm neither Jewish nor Polish, but that didn't matter. Recommended.

I really appreciate the free review copy for review!!
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A series of short stories, almost vignettes that deal with the holocaust and its aftermath. Grynberg beautifully captures the effects of death, grief, loss and war can have on a family, a community, on a nation. It's very blunt and explores topics that may be uncomfortable to face head on, but with the candidness that I think comes from his work with real testimonies. This is his first work of fiction and also the first to be translated into English and I really appreciated the translator’s notes and the glossary, it added meaningful context. I hope this gets to be widely read and that more of Grynberg’s work, is translated.
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'Id Like to Say Sorry, but There's No One to Say Sorry To' has been one of the most challenging books I've ever read - definitely out of my comfort zone, but I'm always seeking to read more translated fiction and broaden my reading into world literature. 

I found the process of reading this book incredibly difficult, as it's not one that's a joy to read. It's stomach churning, thought provoking and challenging in so many ways. Despite each individual being fictional, it is clear that so much of Grynberg's experiences, the testimonies of those he has met, and events in his country both historically and currently have seeped their way in, to the point that I often felt I was reading real interviews or letters to the author. I disliked this book at first, for the sheer hatred and violence of the antisemitism faced by the characters, but as I worked my way through I found the stories moved me more and more, and I learnt that this book's job isn't to entertain but to confront, that the way I was feeling was exactly the way I should feel. Some of my favourite stories were those written in the second person, especially those written like the insensitive "fan" meeting the author at a book signing, or someone offering "advice" on how Grynberg should "better" his craft. 

The translators note at the end further helped me to understand the intent behind this book, and the way in which he approached translating this work, and was in my opinion excellent. A difficult one, but one that should almost definitely be studied when teaching lasting the impacts of the Holocaust in the lives of those left behind.
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This one stuck with me. I loved Grynberg’s writing blunt writing style, and the choice of title for the English translation was perfect.
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Translated from the Polish by Sean Gasper Bye, Mikołaj Grynberg’s first fiction book brings a collection of darkly funny stories about how does it mean to be Jewish in Poland. The book’s title in its original Polish edition is Rejwach which the translator describes as a word rooted in Yiddishism meaning the sort of cacophony as told in the book, a holy racket deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition and history. Truth be told, I got the exact vibe as I read Grynberg’s stories. The stories are short, often without any deep plots, but they are direct, confrontational, and often include elements of dark jokes to paint the Jewish experience.

In almost all of the stories, Grynberg also uses the rarely-used second-person point of view, addressing the readers with “You did this”, and so on. Something quite rare, and I guess is intended to bring the readers into part of the story, to become the co-belligerents of the Jewish experience that Grynberg collects here. Grynberg also touches different timelines in Polish history, spanning during and after the Second World War into contemporary Poland, with points of view touching both Polish Jews and their Polish neighbours. Sometimes he even invites the returnees from Israel, the United States, and other countries with Polish diasporas as they return to Poland to trace back the Auschwitz concentration camp or the shtetl, small towns with Jewish settlements across the former areas of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where they lived.

Perhaps Mikołaj Grynberg’s principal occupation as a photographer and an oral historian gave way to the creative output of this collection with its rich details and funny jokes that celebrate the Jewish experience. It’s such a rare approach in literary fiction. I think this is the kind of book that could only be experienced through reading it, writing a synopsis about it would be a difficult task, much more so with the uniqueness of each story. Other than Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob , this is a wonderful addition to learning the experience of Polish Jews.

Thank you to The New Press and NetGalley for providing an electronic advance reading copy.
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A fantastic series of stories that bring up generational trauma from families throughout Poland. The stories are focused on Jewish relations with Poles after the war and I found the different voices throughout the stories to be very unique and bring about very different perspectives that were new to me. I've read many books both fiction and nonfiction about the Holocaust, but this definitely brings a fresh new lens to what relations were like between the Jewish population and the Polish population after the war and even decades later. The stories are short but well-told and intriguing. I think my favorite story was the one about the son whose father was a photographer. I highly recommend this short story collection and I'm excited to read anything else this author has to offer.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really had no idea what to expect from this book. Sometimes, I choose a book, not necessarily based on the cover, but on the title. I have yet to be disappointed, as I find a book with an interesting title usually contains an interesting story.  This story definitely fit that description. I really liked the super short story format and found this to be a quick read despite the heavy subject matter. I also felt like the twists at the end of each story were unexpected and almost made me have to reread the stories to see if I missed any clues that might have helped me anticipate the ending. I appreciated the historical notes at the end, because there were several references to specific historical events throughout the book, and having the notes to refer to helped provide some clarity and background to the stories. Overall, while many of the stories presented a bleak picture of modern-day life for Jewish people in Poland, many were also laced with hope for the future. I highly recommend this book to fans of short stories, and history buffs alike.
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I have to say I was completely blown away by this book. There are no shortage of books regarding the theme of the Holocaust from completely exploitative fiction novels to the most devastating memoirs, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect from this. As soon as I started reading I couldn’t put it down. The book is comprised of 31 short stories, they’re small testimonies all connected by generational trauma. The abundance of different vignettes makes it not only a fast reading experience, but a more complete one. Giving dimension to the consequences of such a tragic period that will never stop spreading, affecting people from multiple generations, revealing the scars that are there for all to see. I had never experienced a work of fiction that made me feel generational trauma in such an effective way. Highly recommend to everyone. 
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!
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What a mosaic portrayal of a collective trauma. Mikolaj Grynberg presents a series of monologues, almost confessional in tone, of individuals reflecting on the post-Holocaust Jewish experience in Poland. Each monologue is intimate and personal, presenting the different ways in which a tragedy (that many so often think about in a macroscopic level) can exist in the unit of singular persons. I had to pick up and put down this book so many times because it is definitely not one to consume in large volumes.
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I really enjoyed this collection of (very) short stories. An eye-opening look at the Jewish experience in post-war Poland and the antisemitism that persists to the present day.
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This is a vital and arresting piece of fiction. At times raw, macabre, painful, but also funny, Grynberg’s writing captures the lasting scars of the Holocaust upon the lives of Polish Jews. The author’s background in oral history is evident in the way he effortlessly crafts the voices of different narrators within each short vignette. I saw another reviewer comment on how authentic the storytelling feels and I couldn’t agree more. As someone from a Jewish family which was affected by the Holocaust, I found my own familial experiences and thought processes were reflected at multiple points, despite my family not being Polish. I think Grynberg pinpoints many of the varied responses to being a second or third generation Holocaust survivor, and I know that I will be returning to this book in the future as I feel I still have more to unpack from it. I also thought the translation was brilliant and I found the note from the translator at the end really interesting.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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“We were reaching the limits of shared language, a semantic void”

Beautiful and intriguing, this book understands how to capture the reader. The many prose pieces show the same theme from so many different angles. Each story highlighting a different part of the, clearly, complex relationship that Poland and the polish Jews have with the past.
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“We have jokes because we haven't got any hope. But we sure know how to laugh, don’t you think?”

A collection of short stories from the perspective of Jewish individuals living in Poland. This was quick, eerie, unsettling, and deeply funny. Each story was only 3 or 4 pages long, with a punchline that would arrive so fast I frequently had to go back and re-read the story to see what clues I missed. There were many loaded cultural and historical references which would likely be more significant for individuals familiar with Jewish history. Still, in this translated work, Grynberg’s ability to tap into nearly two dozen different voices and perspectives was captivating. 

Grynberg’s English-language translator also included a lovely note at the book’s ending, writing, “Though rooted in a catastrophic past, Grynberg's work is fundamentally about the present. At a time of mounting official anti-Semitism in Poland, when many inside and outside the country see no place in Poland for Jews, Grynberg's testimony of a Jewish present—a Jewish presence—is radical.”

I’d Like to Say Sorry is out on February 8. Thank you NetGalley and The New Press for providing this ARC! 

4 out of 5 ★

@raquelisreading, January 28
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tysm to netgalley and the new press for this advance copy for review. 

i’m going with 3.5 stars — i think some of what trips me up is due to the translation, i can imagine from my extremely limited knowledge of poland and polish that we lose some of the brevity of the work as it’s translated. 

i liked some of the stories a lot, and for that reason i’m super curious to read his nonfiction, because i think undertaking history and oral history of jews and jewishness before, during, and after wwII in poland is fascinating, i just think some of the stories weren’t quite there for me. 

this is a book specifically for my dad who is obsessed with poland because he lived there.
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An incredibly deep insight into the collective trauma following the holocaust and later anti-semitic attitudes in Poland. This book is written in alternating 1st person narrative and 2nd person narrative, which works well in conveying the overall sentiment of each short story. 
The short stories in this novel were quite brief but always drove home compelling emotion in an almost "indifferent" manner. By that I mean the stories were devastating because the author used flowery, descriptive language and prose but because the text was so real and raw in it's content. It showed the pain and loss but also everyday normalities of living in a world where your identity defines you. The grief and anger that came in the text where the heritage or history of the narrator is lost, forgotten or never discussed really defines this book as an important voice in the literature. Not due to it's historical facts and detail but due to it's human voice.
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