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A Lit Favorite: Bruno Schulz

By Claudia Kawczynska, September 2012, Updated June 2021

Bruno Schulz was one of the leading Polish Jewish authors of the 20th century, although he only wrote two collections of stories during his lifetime. He was born in 1892 in the town of Drohobycz in what is now the Ukraine (but was, at one time part of Austria and then Poland). The town of Drohobycz  is currently hosting an art and literature festival to honor him. He has been acclaimed as one of the greatest stylist in Polish literature.

Schulz, who was also a graphic artist was residing in that town during WWII, under the “protection” of a S.S. officer, Felix Landau, in exchange for painting a mural on the walls of his villa. But Schulz was slain in 1942, shot as he was walking down the street by a Nazi commander who was said to kill him in retaliation toward Landau. Horribly the killer had said,” You killed my Jew—I killed yours.”

His first book, The Street of Crocodiles, was published in 1934 and he was hailed as one of the major avant-garde writer and visual artist in that era. Contemporary writers, David Grossman,  Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Cynthia Ozick, Jonathan Saffron Foer, have all paid homage to him. In the words of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Schulz “wrote sometimes like Kafka, sometimes like Proust, and at times succeeded in reaching the depths that neither of them reached.”

We became acquainted with Schulz’s work through  a recommendation from a reader. We were honored to be able to publish “Nimrod,” a story from his first book, in 2004. It remains one of our lit favorites. As David Grossman said about his discovery of Schulz’s writing that when he first read him “Even today it is hard for me to describe the jolt that ran through me.” We feel the same, and hopefully you agree that this story merits a place in the dog literature canon.

Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.