"The Mighty Angel of the title is both the pub where this eloquent antiherolike his creator, a writer named Jerzyescapes sobriety and the fiery messenger from the Book of Revelations. As he tells his story, mingled with those of his fellow inmates in rehab, Jerzy captures both the ecstasies and ugly despair of inebriation. The novel, which offers no excuses, is as funny and charming as it is gruesome and tragic. In addition to being an alcoholic, Jerzy is addicted to words. This interferes with his ability to lead a fully engaged life as much as his fondness for peach vodka does. Translator Johnston deserves credit, too, for the precise rendering.
A candid, caustic, intensely human depiction of alcoholism."Kirkus
"The modern literary traditionin particular, the Lost Generation writers and their contemporarieshas done something curious in romanticizing the throes of alcoholism. Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald were all raging alcoholics and filled their novels with characters who acted likewise. But never before, and rarely today, does a novelist confront addiction so intimately and personally as Jerzy Pilch in his recently translated novel, The Mighty Angel.
A darkly humorous, yet undeniably serious, look into the life of a repeatedly relapsing alcoholic (also named Jerzy) and his recovering brethren in and out of rehab comes as no great surprise from one of Poland’s most celebrated writers. The Mighty Angel” cemented Pilch’s reputation, earning him Poland’s NIKE Literary Award in 2001. It was well-deserved. Pilch unflinchingly confronts the emotional reality of alcoholism and suggests a more sobering reality beyond sobriety."Will L. Fletcher, The Harvard Crimson
"Although Jerzy Pilch is acclaimed in his native Poland, "The Mighty Angel" is only the second of his books to be translated into English. In morbidly funny, hallucinatory prose reminiscent of Malcolm Lowry's, Pilch tells the story of a novelist, also named Jerzy, and his struggle with alcoholism. Jerzy has voluntarily committed himself 18 times to an alcohol rehabilitation center, but he always winds up stopping for a drink at the nearest pub, "The Mighty Angel," on his way home.
To better understand his own anguish, Jerzy tells the zanily bitter stories of his fellow alcoholics ... each of these men and women provide trenchant insight into the human predicament. But by far the novel's most powerful image is that of the titular angel, who enters Jerzy's life by turns to tempt and threaten and, at last, to save."Rebecca Oppenheimer, Book Bag
About the Author
Jerzy Pilch is one of Poland's most important contemporary writers. In addition to his long-running satirical newspaper column, Pilch has published several novels, and has been nominated for Poland's NIKE Literary Award four times; he finally won the Award in 2001 for The Mighty Angel.
Bill Johnston is Director of the Polish Studies Center at Indiana University and has translated works by Witold Gombrowicz, Magdalena Tulli, Wieslaw Mysliwski, and others. He won the Best Translated Book Award in 2012 and the inaugural Found in Translation Award in 2008.