Gained in Translation
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Published in: July-August 2022 issue.



by Michał Witkowski
Translated by W. Martin
Seagull Books. 295 pages, $24.50



POLISH WRITER Michał Witkowski’s 2019 novel Fynf und Cfancyś is now available in English as Eleven-Inch, translated by W. Martin. Set in the demimonde of Eastern European escorts, prostitutes, and hustlers, the novel is by turns a ribald, mordant, comic, and caustic picture of the early 1990s post-Communist world when the glitzy allurements of the West enticed many young Eastern Europeans to seek their fortunes far from their native land.

            The narrative is a study in contrasts. The two teenage protagonists—Milan from Slovakia and Michał from Poland—could not be more different. Milan, who goes by the name and gender identity Dianka (an homage to Princess Diana), runs away to Vienna, where she plies her trade in gay bars and seedy train station bathrooms. Blonde and blue-eyed with a scrumptious face and ass, Dianka’s unfortunate fecklessness in the dangerous world of hustling puts her on a fast road to an abyss.

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Philip Gambone, a frequent contributor to The G&LR, is the author of five books of fiction and nonfiction.