Autobiography, satire and non-fiction book combined
We are among the few who immediately understand the title of the book by Anna Piasecka, “BIGOS, ZOB und JOB”. The regional German-Polish Society invited the author to give a reading from her first book. Anna’s friends and fellow students from her uni days joined the society’s members at the reading. She has been friends with the society’s chair since a school exchange some years ago. But above all, the port city in the extreme north of Germany was where she studied. The book is about that time and about starting her professional career between Germany and Poland. In our town, people from 149 countries live together peacefully, with almost one thousand Poles among that number. The town has a reputation for being cosmopolitan, not least because of its close border with Denmark. It is twinned with the Polish town of Słupsk where Piasecka grew up. In her book, the name of our town remains a secret. Because of this, the author's experiences in other unnamed places in Germany and Poland can be applied more generally, and even data protection laws are satisfied.
Bigos is, of course, the Polish national dish made from steamed sauerkraut with sausage, various types of meat and plums that can be seasoned with wine. If you can't find or afford to visit a Polish restaurant abroad, then someone will bring this meal back from Poland with them so that you get a little taste of home. The ZOB is the Zentrale Omnibusbahnhof (Central Bus Station) in our town where all city buses meet, and where intercity buses to neighbouring communities and long-distance buses to Denmark and Poland leave and arrive from. It is the central square in this town which you cross to get to the eastern parts of the city or to the harbour from the west and where thousands of pupils and students at the university and technical college change buses every day. ZOB is one of the first terms that Anna had to learn in Germany. Everybody needs a job. According to Piasecka, you have to look for one until you drop or you won’t find one. Many potential readers will be unfamiliar with the first two words of the book’s title which are supposed to arouse your curiosity. But they also make it harder for booksellers to guess the contents of the publication, as the author knows only too well after trying it out for herself in a book shop.
Piasecka arrived in Germany around the turn of the millennium. It was the era of post-socialism when your education and professional life were still determined by deep-rooted mentalities and traditions and the economy of scarcity made everyday life harder. The country was still not a member of the European Union. A difficult childhood and a difficult adolescence had hardened the young woman. She had to assume responsibility for her poorly sister, her family and herself much too early in life. She had actually wanted to study law in Poland, but despite having the best marks and a high score in the admission procedure, she did not get a place to study. Other applicants, whose parents were lawyers, managed to get a place easily, even though their results were not as good. An advertisement in a magazine advertising study places in Germany and a positive email from the dean of the polytechnic in the far north gave her the courage to go abroad. She hoped to flee the “poisoned” homeland environment and find a new future in Germany.