240 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 9781942658146


ISBN: 9781942658153

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“A moving attempt to trace the connections between Kosinski’s wartime struggles and postwar fictions.”

New Yorker

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Jerzy is a novel with a light touch that’s still capable of lifting heavy subjects. Charyn knows what he wants to do and knows how to do it. His prose has some of the rapid-fire but carefully controlled energy of Thomas Pynchon’s early novella The Crying of Lot 49. Part of Charyn’s point is to make the real and the imagined sound equally implausible. . . . Charyn’s other point seems much broader: to show that all forms of power are pretty much alike, or at least connected—Hollywood, Capitol Hill, Kensington Palace, the Kremlin. Because Kosinski is a figure who proves (if we still need to learn it) that the craziness of American life may have more in common with the craziness of Russia and Europe than we like to think.”

New York Times Book Review

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“Intriguing. . . . Lively. . . . Perhaps Kosinski lied and dissembled more than was strictly necessary, but as Charyn’s puzzle-box novel demonstrates, it’s hard to argue with the results.”

Toronto Star

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“As full of surprises as Jerzy Kosinski was himself. . . . The book whets the reader’s appetite to learn even more about a man who is simultaneously reviled and respected.”

Jewish Book Council

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“Brilliantly fascinating, weirdly original.”

Evening Standard

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“Hilarious and provocative. . . . Charyn edges towards the truth of this chameleon character in prose that is beautiful and spare.”

Jewish Renaissance

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“A stark, engrossing novel about the rise and fall of celebrated author Jerzy Kozinski whose life was deeply affected by World War II, the Holocaust, the Soviet Union, literary awards, fame and by the film, Being There, that he wrote and that starred Peter Sellers.”

Stay Thirsty Magazine

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“[Charyn] matches his faultless ear with a correspondingly artful imagination. . . . Jerzy is where the juju of The Big Apple meets the consummate probing skepticism of native New Yorkers.”


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“For Charyn, Kosinski is that larger-than-life enigmatic Citizen Kane. . . . What Charyn’s novel can do, with its brilliant satirical bite, is compel readers to learn more about Jerzy Kosinski, one of the great writers of the 20th century. . . . It’s not a simple story, as Charyn’s novel attests. Truth is stranger than fiction and fiction seeks a greater truth.”

Comics Grinder

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“Charyn presents a mighty Kosinski in a few dimensions. . . . Perhaps there is even no true Jerzy but merely a myth of many sizes, and one, as Charyn’s novel demonstrates a half-century after the publication of The Painted Bird, we keep on recreating to our mind’s delight.”


“Daringly imaginative and profoundly insightful.”

Booklist (starred review)

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“The rise and fall of novelist Jerzy Kosinski (1933-1991) emerges in an offbeat way . . . through Charyn’s resourceful imagination and always-colorful, punchy, provocative prose.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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“Charyn peels back the layers of myth and artifice built up by chameleon-like Polish-American novelist Jerzy Kosinski. . . . [His] clever novel underscores the sense that Kosinski was a man impossible to nail down, given to wild changes in personality and appearance depending on his own wealth, desires, and mood. Through triangulating voices and stories, Charyn manages to get close to the truth, and does so with beautiful, spare prose.”

Publishers Weekly

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“A fast-paced, minimalist exploration of one of 20th century’s most elusive literary figures.”

Shelf Awareness for Readers

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“Gripping. . . . Charyn will expertly guide you through the shadowy life of this most enigmatic of artists in this imaginative and provocative novel.”

Historical Novels Review

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“Is [Jerzy Kosinski] really who and what he claims to be? . . . Author Jerome Charyn, who revealed the inner lives of iconic Americans in his previous novels, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson and I Am Abraham, uncovers the hidden layers of an enigmatic personality.”

Bloomington Public Library (Bloomington, IL)

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Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There) and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.

Jerome Charyn lends his unmistakable style to this most American story of personal disintegration, told through the voices of multiple narrators—a homicidal actor, a dominatrix, and Joseph Stalin’s daughter—who each provide insights into the shifting facets of Kosinski’s personality. The story unfolds like a Russian nesting doll, eventually revealing the lost child beneath layers of trauma, while touching on the nature of authenticity, the atrocities of WWII, the allure of sadomasochism, and the fickleness of celebrity.

New York Times “Editors’ Choice” selection

Evening Standard “Best Summer Beach Read” selection

Bloomington Public Library “Next Reads Recommended Title” selection

Literary Hub “Indie Press Book We’re Looking Forward To” selection

Big Other “Most Anticipated Small Press Book” selection

Excerpt from Jerzy

Enjoy a long-form review of Jerzy: A Novel in the New Yorker, then read an excerpt from it and interviews with author Jerome Charyn in Stay Thirsty Magazine and Comics Grinder.

Listen to Jerome Charyn, author of Jerzy: A Novel, and Tom Teicholz, author of Being There: Journalism 1978-2000, discuss the life and legacy of Jerzy Kosinski on Rare Bird Radio.