Posted by: koolwine | February 12, 2012

Poland: Marzi

Marzi toughs out life as an only child while enduring  the shortages and fear prevalent in 1980s communist Poland.

Country Focus: Poland (Polska in Polish)

Marzi: A Memoir
By Marzena Sowa with art by Sylvain Savoia
Translated by Anjali Singh
Originally published in France as Marzi- L’Integrale 1 – La Pologne vue par les yeux d’une enfant and Marzi – L’Integrale 2 – Une enfant en Pologne by Dupuis, 2009.
My edition: DC Comics, 2011.
230 pgs.

Genre: Memoir/Graphic Novel
Time period:

To make a long story short:  Marzi is a little girl living in a drab apartment building with her parents in 1980s communist Poland.  Her father, a factory-worker, becomes one of the thousands who puts their lives at risk by participating in the anti-communist Solidarnosc movement.  Her mother works in a dairy and constantly criticizes Marzi’s penchant for wool-gathering.   On weekends and vacations the family visits their relatives in the country and helps harvest the crops that supplement their meager diet.  Sowa has recorded her life in brief vignettes,  touching on topics as various as the embarrassment of having to walk home with rolls of toilet paper draped around her neck,  drinking medicine to counteract the effects of radioactive drift from Chernobyl, and the fall of communism.


Our communism’s fall wasn’t spectacular.  There was no splat! No boom!  The fall didn’t harm anyone, not even the “bad guys,” which didn’t make some of the “good guys” very happy.  But are they really good if they want others to suffer?
It wasn’t like the Berlin Wall.  Blam! Slam! Crack! Clear out, it’s collapsing!
A leaf dies quietly on a tree, simply detaches itself and falls.  That was the way our communism ended.  Who remembers a fallen leaf?  A gardener rakes it up, a squirrel grabs it, the wind carries it away – unless it’s a child collecting leaves to make bookmarks.
It flies towards the east and others say: Look it’s fall in Poland! We should be experiencing the same season too!  And they’re all connected, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania, blood, and spectacular falls.  Everyone’s fall arrives in its own way.
Ours was very natural.
We were the first leaf.

Marzena Sowa

The author:  Marzena Sowa was born in 1979 in Stolowa Wola (Steel Will), Poland and attended college in Krakow.  Marzi is the first (and only one translated into English so far) in a series of six memoirs that chronicle her life in Poland.  In the book’s intro, she says, “I was born in Poland at a time when it was undergoing some big changes.  I watched it rebel.  I watched it dream.  And saw its dreams come true.  This allowed me to believe that through perseverance, stubbornness and force of character, you could change the world.”

Overall Rating:

(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and  5 books = lit up)


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  1. […] Poland: Marzi: A Memoir by Marzena Sowa with art by Sylvain Savoia […]


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