The Painted Bird

The Painted Bird

Book - 1995
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Originally published in 1965, The Painted Bird established Jerzy Kosinski as a major literary figure. Kosinski's story follows a dark-haired, olive-skinned boy, abandoned by his parents during World War II, as he wanders alone from one village to another, sometimes hounded and tortured, only rarely sheltered and cared for. Through the juxtaposition of adolescence and the most brutal of adult experiences, Kosinski sums up a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess where senseless violence and untempered hatred are the norm. Through sparse prose and vivid imagery, Kosinski's novel is a story of mythic proportion, even more relevant to today's society than it was upon its original publication. -- from (Jan. 12, 2016).
Publisher: New York :, Grove Press ;, [Emeryville, CA] :, Distributed by Publishers Group West,, 1995.
Edition: Second edition.
Copyright Date: ©1965.
ISBN: 9780802134226
Branch Call Number: FIC KOSI
Characteristics: xxvi, 234 pages ; 21 cm


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Mar 08, 2020

Gruesome but well written. Memorable.

Sep 06, 2019

Had it not been for the buzz of Vaclav Marhoul’s recently released movie adaption of the 1965 novel, this book probably would have remained dormant on most library shelves. A gruesome fictional story that parallels actual events about a Romani, widely known by the exonym ”gypsy” boy who struggles to survive during the darkest days of humankind. This is not your typical “View from a child’s eye Holocaust story”, and in my opinion should not be used a teaching tool for children as in The Diary of Ann Frank, or The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. It is far too graphic on many levels. In many parts it reads like a work by Jean Genet or Pier Pasolini. Kudos to Kosinski however, for shedding light on the often forgotten persecution of the Romani people across Europe during the war, that still continues today as Europe tilts further and further to the far right. This book left me emotionally drained. I’ll pass on the film.

Dec 08, 2018

This is a graphic, but fictional account of a boy who was fostered in an Eastern European country-side. Take a look at the history of this novel before reading it. It has been proven to be fictional, as well as plagiarized from Polish authors. Knowing this, it painted my whole view of the events in the novel.

Jan 09, 2016

Both an allegorical and literal look at the violence and abandonment inherent during war. Very graphic and not for all. The author has a spartan prose and the pace is very quick. Worth reading if you are interested.

May 12, 2015

I was disappointed in this novel. The chronicle of torture, dismemberment, kinky sex, death and escape resemble a teen boy's fantasies more than anything else. The writing is smooth, but uninspired and uninspiring.

Mar 13, 2015

Jerzy Kosinski is nearly as interesting as a man as he is as a writer. Unfortunately he suicided.

Sean Lapointe Jan 25, 2013

A compelling story of a young boy who roams from village to village in WWII. Despite witnessing disturbing and depraved acts at every turn, many of which were directed towards him, he never gives up and tries to find meaning behind it all.

Jul 18, 2012

This controversial book by a controversial author is an unrelenting and very disturbing chronicle of ignorance and cruelty. I have a high tolerance for depressing and disturbing material, but this exceeded my personal threshold, in part because the stream of violence and barbarity was so constant that it lent an air of unreality to the book, and eventually left the reader numb. This may be a classic, but I think it is overhyped.

Oct 26, 2010

A very disturbing, violent story.


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Dec 29, 2015

The Painted Bird is a controversial 1965 novel by Jerzy Kosinski which describes World War II as seen by a boy, considered a "Gypsy or Jewish stray," wandering about small towns scattered around Eastern Europe. The story was originally introduced by Kosiński to Houghton Mifflin as autobiographical. It was only upon its publication that he quietly refrained from making such claims any further. Assumed by reviewers to be a memoir of a Jewish survivor and witness to the Holocaust telling the supposed true story of his futile search for his deported family, the book received enthusiastic reviews. However, within two decades it was discovered that the story was not only fictional[2] but also plagiarized from popular books written in the Polish language, unknown to English readers. In a series of articles in newspapers and books which followed, it was revealed that Kosiński engaged in willful mystification in order to corroborate the claim of being separated from his family, and that he thus did not share any of the boy's experiences.


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