“Anyone want to guess where we are off to next?” Scott asks the audience.
After a few seconds, a man in the front row suggests “Poland?”
“Our first answer and we are indeed off to… Poland! Slightly spooky.”
“If you’re only going to buy one book today, get this one.” Scott says sincerely. “It is an absolute masterpiece. It’s called I Burn Paris by Bruno Jasieński.”
Bruno Jasieński was born in Poland in the early 20th century. He wrote a few books and moved to Paris in his twenties. And there he saw a popular pamphlet called ‘I burn Moscow’. Jasieński wrote this book as a sort of satirical response to that pamphlet, and it was so controversial that he got deported from France. He ended up in Russia, where they published a translation of I Burn Paris, which sold out within one day. He was only his thirties when he died in a labour camp as part of Stalin’s purges.
It’s a phenomenal piece of writing. It even feels Kafka-esque, very modern and relevant to the current events of today. I’m even going to read an excerpt from the novel, which is something I don’t usually do, just to demonstrate how brilliantly masterful the writing is.
A man called Pierre is a disgruntled factory worker who is suddenly made redundant and finds himself homeless on the streets of Paris. He goes to see his girlfriend at her workplace, but she isn’t there. He goes to her lodgings, but she’s not there either. He wanders Paris, struggling to get by and always thinking he can see his girlfriend with other men.
Pierre decides to get revenge on the city that wronged him.
“I won’t spoil the story by telling you how he does it,” Scott reassures the audience, “but the rest of the book looks at the aftermath of what he does.”