Peter Pišťanek

Peter Pišťanek (1960)
Peter Pišťanek

The writer who paved the path, to much acclaim of his readership, of an innovative approach to the art of fiction. Formerly a manual worker, after 1989 career in advertising business, currently editor-in-chief of the inZine Internet magazine. Lives in Devínska Nová Ves, a half-suburb, half-countryside near Bratislava that has become the major source of his fiction. First published in late 1980s in Slovenské pohľady.

His book, the novel Rivers of Babylon (1991) received rave reviews by his readers and critics alike. Using a highly expressive language and a plethora of different styles, the book describes the Bratislava underworld populated by diverse gangsters, petty thieves and prostitutes – an environment scarcely portrayed in Slovak literature before.

Their only ambition is to make their lives as much pleasant as possible, a goal involving cheating, taking advantage of and ruining the lives of others. Somewhere in the backstage of these activities, the revolutionary change of 1989 is taking shape.

Detached and laconic, though accurately capturing the state of affairs, Pišťanek emphasizes his straightforward narrative and action-packed pacing of his book. Young Dônč (Mladý Dônč, 1993) is a volume of three novellas – Debutant, Mladý Dônč and Muzika. Mladý Dônč portrays the black and bizarre comedy of the decaying Dônč family, due to their alcoholism, and, more importantly, its concomitants – total ignorance and no interest in anything outside of the territory of their house. Despite its grotesqueness, the novella Muzika provides a penetrating sociological probe into the life during Socialist normalization of the 1970s. A pulp-fiction-styled sequel to his first novel appeared as Rivers of Babylon 2 or Wooden Village (Rivers of Babylon 2 alebo Drevená dedina, 1994), followed by a volume of short stories Axing and Knifing (Sekerou a nožom, 1999, with Dušan Taragel), volumes of micro-stories Tales on Vlado (Skazky o Vladovi, 1995) and New Tales on Vlado (Nové skazky o Vladovi, 1998) and the final part of the trilogy Rivers of Babylon 3: Fredy’s Demise (Rivers of Babylon 3: Fredyho koniec, 1999).

Co-author (with D. Taragel, among others) of the representative publication Roger Krowiak (2003). The same year saw his Recipes from the Family Archive or All I Ever Knew I Learned From My Grandpa (Recepty z rodinného archívu alebo Všetko, čo viem, ma naučil môj dedo). In the company of Grandpa Pišťanek, we travel throughout the entire past century. The atmosphere of the time, ever present in every line of the book, is much more powerful than in the history books. Above all, Pišťanek’s Recipes make a very good and agreeable reading. Each recipe is introduced by a story, or, at least an intriguing circumstance surrounding its birth or discovery. The author‘s style is at its utter plain, narrating his culinary tales simply, with humor and good-hearted irony. Another book is a selection of his public writings entitled Tractor-drivers and Buggers (Traktoristi a buzeranti, 2003). The articles, editorials, letters, memories, reviews and interviews and other journalistic short pieces air his highly original and unique views on both petty and substantial things of daily existence, and are written in his brilliant signature style. An interesting publication about the noseitching Cognac cellars entitled The Wine’s Living Fire (Živý oheň z vína, 2006) is the writer’s latest contribution to the collection of innovative cookbooks. A witty and riveting account of this powerful and delightful liquid is informative on the history of Cognac, its tasting, superstitions and personalities who have made this liquor so famous and unique.

© University of Wales, Aberystwyth 2002-2009       home  |  e-mail us  |  back to top
site by CHL