MLA Gold Award Site

Excerpt from The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Lullaby of Polish Girls

by Dagmara Dominczyk

The Lullaby of Polish Girls
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2013, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2014, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Ben is flying back home today. Back to what, Anna doesn't know. What can she offer him anymore? In the beginning she offered him exotic tales of growing up in the Flatbush projects, tales of a homely little Polish immigrant. She offered him daily blow jobs and Thai take-out every night. She offered him her world, a world of small but incomparable measure, a world where tanks rolled in the streets, where armed milicja jailed idealistic young men who fought for their freedom as their fathers and grandfathers had before them. She offered romance; it was all so incredibly romantic—the turmoil of a foreign country recounted by a Slavic-looking Marilyn Monroe.

In turn, Ben offered her a version of the New World, the uncomplicated pleasure of a boy who came from the average middle class. "I've got four brothers," he told her that first night, as the sun was coming up. "Jonah, Jefferson, Simon, and Samuel." Anna swooned over the Midwestern musicality of their names. She repeated the names in her melodious voice, tinged with the slightest trace of an Eastern European accent, as if reciting a stanza of an Emerson poem.

"Anna Baran ain't bad either."

"Well, it could have been Z•dzis?awa." Anna laughed when Ben tried to repeat the word, his tongue twisting in on itself, his jaw clenched.

Last Monday, Anna had locked the door behind Ben and prepared for total isolation till his return. There would be no Thanksgiving in New York, but then again, there never had been. Her parents didn't partake in the turkey. Her father was firm in that regard. "I steal land from the Indian, I rob his everything and put him on casino war camps and now I eat like pig to celebrate? No fuck way!" So there was no one to bother her and she was free to smoke 147 cigarettes, take one shower, and come to the realization that Ben's absence has not brought fondness or longing, just dread.

At four-twenty a.m., the phone rings. The ashtray balancing on Anna's lap flies in the air and spills all over the couch. She scrambles to the table on the other side of the room. A phone call at four in the morning can mean only a few things. Dad, Anna thinks, it's Tato.

"Hello?"

"Ania! Oh, Ania . . . !" Her mother, Paulina, is wailing on the other end, and Anna's heart explodes upon direct contact with the sound, a sound that pierces the silence of the room and has no business infiltrating the hush of night in such a sudden, earsplitting manner.

"What is it? Oh God, Mamo, what is it?"

"He's dead! O mój Boz?e, Anna, he's dead." This is the phone call that Anna's been waiting for since she was thirteen, waiting for on subways, in school halls, while playing Chinese jump rope, or taking a bath, or biting her nails like a zombie in front of the TV while her mother paced the dining room waiting for her father, Rados?aw, to turn up.

"How did he do it?" she hears herself asking before it all has sunk in.

"He didn't do it. Filip did it!" Anna's breath slows down and the walls stop closing in.

"Who's Filip?" Her mother is still crying, loudly, incessantly—and right now, in the midst of obvious confusion, it's infuriating Anna.

"Filip, Elwira's boyfriend! Anna, who do you think I'm talking about?" Anna doesn't answer but her mother thankfully plows on. "Justyna's husband is dead, he was murdered last night, in his own house. By his sister-in-law's boyfriend. Can you believe it?"

"Poczekaj! Wait. Just wait a fucking second, Mother! Just hold on, okay?" Anna breathes slowly, rearranging her thoughts, smoothing down the tabletop with her hand as she does. "Justyna? From Kielce?"

"Yes! Jesus, how many Justynas do you know? Her husband was stabbed in the middle of the night. Justyna's a widow. A twenty-six-year-old widow . . ." And now her mother is whimpering, mewling like an injured cat.

Excerpted from The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk. Copyright © 2013 by Dagmara Dominczyk. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The City of Kielce

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All Tomorrow's Parties
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Never-Open Desert Diner
    The Never-Open Desert Diner
    by James Anderson
    James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, starts off as an entertaining ...
  • Book Jacket: The Vanishing Velazquez
    The Vanishing Velazquez
    by Laura Cumming
    Author Laura Cumming spins out a tale of obsession and ruin in her latest book, The Vanishing Vel&#...
Win this book!
Win The 100 Year Miracle

50 Copies to Give Away!

The 100 Year Miracle is a rich, enthralling novel, full of great characters.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Dark Lady's Mask
    by Mary Sharratt

    Based on the life of the first professional woman poet in Renaissance England, and her collaboration with Shakespeare.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H Now B C?

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.