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by Jerzy Pilch and translated by Bill Johnston

Pub Date: April 28th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-934824-08-5
Publisher: Open Letter

Winner of Poland’s prestigious NIKE Literary Award, and the second of this important Polish writer’s works to be translated into English.

“Doctor, I’m aware, I really am fully aware, that it’s impossible…to live a long and happy life when you drink. But how can you live a long and happy life if you don’t drink?” With this line—uttered upon the occasion of his 18th trip to rehab—Pilch’s narrator offers a perfect summary of the alcoholic’s paradoxical existence. The Mighty Angel of the title is both the pub where this eloquent antihero—like his creator, a writer named Jerzy—escapes sobriety and the fiery messenger from the Book of Revelations. As he tells his story, mingled with those of his fellow inmates in rehab, Jerzy captures both the ecstasies and ugly despair of inebriation. The novel, which offers no excuses, is as funny and charming as it is gruesome and tragic. In addition to being an alcoholic, Jerzy is addicted to words. This interferes with his ability to lead a fully engaged life as much as his fondness for peach vodka does. Translator Johnston deserves credit, too, for the precise rendering.

A candid, caustic, intensely human depiction of alcoholism.