Jerzy Kosinski

Jerzy Kosinski (jr´zē kəzĬn´skē), 1933–91, American writer, b. Łódź, Poland. He taught at the Univ. of Łódź before emigrating to the United States in 1957. In his best-known novel, The Painted Bird (1965), the horrors of war and the violation of a human being are rendered in language of remarkable beauty. The novel depicts the nightmarish wanderings of a young boy among brutal peasants in a nameless country during World War II. Kosinski's other novels include Steps (1968, National Book Award), Being There (1971), The Devil Tree (1973), Cockpit (1975), Passion Play (1978), and The Hermit of 69th Street (1988). For several decades the wittily urbane author was a literary, social, and media celebrity. However, during the 1980s Kosinski was shaken by scandal as critics charged that other authors had helped him to write his books and that his supposed roman à clef, The Painted Bird, which had made his personal and literary reputation, was not remotely autobiographical. This discrediting may have been a factor in his suicide. Kosinski also wrote under the name Joseph Novak.

See biography by J. Park Sloan (1996).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

In the Singer's Temple: Prose Fictions of Barthelme, Gaines, Brautigan, Piercy, Kesey, and Kosinski
Jack Hicks.
University of North Carolina Press, 1981
Holocaust Fiction
Sue Vice.
Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Autobiographical Fiction: Jerzy Kosinski, The Painted Bird"
Insanity as Redemption in Contemporary American Fiction: Inmates Running the Asylum
Barbara Tepa Lupack.
University Press of Florida, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Happening by Chance: Being There"
Literature and Film as Modern Mythology
William K. Ferrell.
Praeger, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Politics and the Public by Jerzy Kosinski"
Literary Subversions: New American Fiction and the Practice of Criticism
Jerome Klinkowitz.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: "Betrayed by Jerzy Kosinski" begins on p. 127
Princes, Peasants, and Other Polish Selves
Thomas S. Gladsky.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "The Nonethnic Ethnic Novels of Jerzy Kosinski" begins on p. 163
Voicing the Void: Muteness and Memory in Holocaust Fiction
Sara R. Horowitz.
State University of New York Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Mute Language of Brutality"
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