The House with the Stained-Glass Window
By Zanna Sloniowska
The acclaimed story of a young girl's awakening - set in the the evocative, beautiful Ukrainian/Polish city of Lviv
Amid the turbulence of 20th century Lviv, meet four generations of women from the same fractious family, living beneath one roof and each striving to find their way across the decades of upheaval in an ever-shifting city.
First there is Great-Granma, tiny and terrifying, shaped by a life of exile, hardship and doomed love, now fighting to keep her iron grip on the lives of her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter. Then there is Aba, arthritic but devoted; cowed and despised by her mother, her one chance of happiness thwarted and her hopes of studying painting crushed. Thirdly, Marianna, the brilliant opera star: bold, beautiful and a fearless crusader for Ukrainian independence, who is shot during a demonstration and whose life and martyrdom casts a shadow upon the young life of the fourth and final woman, her daughter.
More important even than these four women though is the character of the city of Lviv (or Lwów, or Lvov, depending on the point in history). A city of markets and monuments, streets and spires, where history and the present collide, civilisations clash and stories rise up on every corner.
Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Zanna Sloniowska was born in 1978 in Lviv and is a journalist and translator. She now lives in Kraków. She is the first winner of the Znak Publishers' Literary Prize, for which her novel was chosen from among over a thousand entries. In 2016, Zanna Sloniowska won the Conrad Award, the Polish award for first novels.
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- Publication date:
20 Sep 2018
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The House with the Stained-Glass Window is remarkable, a gripping, Lvivian evocation of a city and a family across a long and painful century, at once personal and political, a novel of life and survival across the ages — Philippe Sands
Few novels will engage the heart and mind as cohesively as this emphatic performance that triumphs through its depiction of the human stories overshadowed by history. — Eileen Battersby, Financial Times.
Sloniowska writes subtly and beautifully - every phrase conjures up images, casting colourful lights just like the stained-glass window of the title. — Sylwia Chutnik
This story could only have happened in Ukraine. And then again it could have happened anywhere, because the blood on the blue-and-yellow flag is just the beginning of an intimate tale about four generations of women. — Zofia Fabjanowska-Micyk, Zwierciadlo.
Sloniowska is a fascinating story-teller who also gives insight into the reality of life in Ukraine. This is an astonishing literary discovery. — Justyna Sobolewska, Polityka.
A city of women's mysteries, and History, which the author constantly re-interprets. Zanna Sloniowska surprises and seduces. — Jaroslaw Czechowicz, Krytycznym Okiem.
This novel was written as a challenge to crushing, cruel history; it arose from a desire to give a voice to the individual experiences of women. But at a certain point it turns in a direction contrary to its original ambitions, and the counter-history disappears in the fog of exploding smoke grenades. — Dariusz Nowacki, Gazeta Wyborcza.
A moving, incisive saga about women entangled by historical events. — Anna Szulc, Newsweek Polska.