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Aga Maksimowska on a Child's Perspective of Revolution and Building Character

Aga Maksimowska, author of Giant (Pedlar Press, 2012).

How do you fit into a new country when you don't speak the language, your motherland is in upheaval, and you're teenaged-girl body is as well? In fact, you're a "giant."

Giant, by Aga Maksimowska, presents a child’s perspective of revolution—Poland in 1989—a traumatic time of change mirrored in 11-year-old Gosia's body and the absence of her migrant-worker parent, a mother who works in Canada cleaning houses and a father who ferries Asian goods to Europe.

Gosia is transported quite suddenly to Canada to live with mother. There, she undergoes puberty as Poland struggles with its own transformation. Gosia feels neither Polish nor Canadian, yet her identity is weaved from the threads of multi-ethnic influences, both old and new. It's a quintessentially Canadian story.

"If you like misshapen, afflicted, uniquely insightful youthful protagonists grappling with sweeping historical change, you'll love Giant. Aga Maksimowska channeled Salman Rushdie and Günter Grass in creating this unforgettable, funny, outsized Polish Canadian girl narrator." Elaine Chang (Reel Asian)

"In Giant, Aga Maksimowska has created a heroine who is bold, fiercely funny, and as unforgettable as the Polish uprising to which she is a witness. A story of emancipation so heart-breakingly hilariou …

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On the Insidious Absence of Stories, and Bridging Ethnic Solitudes: Guest Post by Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak's debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2000. The Winter Palace, a novel of Catherine the Great will be published in January of 2012 in Canada, U.S., U.K., Holland, and Poland. She lives in Toronto where she is at work on her next novel about Catherine the Great.

I’m Canadian and I’m Polish. I have two internal voices in two languages that have become indelible parts of myself. I’m a North American and a European, for both cultural traditions have shaped me and both demand that I listen to their arguments. To complicate it further, I was born in Eastern or New Europe, as the lands from behind the former Iron Curtain are often called, in what Timothy Snyder, the Princeton historian of 20th century atrocities, calls the bloodlands.

I am also a writer.

Two decades ago I started writing about Polish immigrants to Canada who, like me, arrived here in the aftermath of the Solidarity crisis in search of a home. I wrote in English, not only because I was a graduate student of English at McGill, but also because English allowed me to tell these Polish stories to readers who did not share my ethnic background.

The characters of these early stories are forced to re-examine their heritage. Having left their hom …

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