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Nike 2016 goes to Bronka Nowicka. Look at this year's winner on a shelf along with other finalists and winners

Autor: Jarosław Chudzik, Vadim Makarenko and Danuta Pawłowska | 02.10.2016

Her volume, "Nakarmić kamień" ("Feeding a stone") was not a favourite and probably many critics were shocked. Poetry has thus strengthened its position among the nominees and award-winning books in the most prestigious competition.

  • poetry has taken the Nike award for the sixth time in its history. The last time the jury gave the main award to a poet was in 2009;
  • Bronka Nowicka is the fifth woman to be awarded the Nike and the first poet to have won the statuette;
  • this is the second statuette to go to a writer with the Literackie publishing house, with their previous win going to Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dyckiw in 2009;
  • the Nike readers’ award went to Magdalena Grzebałkowska for the report "1945: War and Peace", published by Agora

Infographic: Jarosław Chudzik. Data preparation: Natalia Szostak, Jacek Świąder

Bronka Nowicka, who received the statuette and a cheque for PLN 100,000 is a theatre and television director. Her “Nakarmić kamień” was her debut - 44 short prose poems. The genre is difficult because it requires, as Wyborcza says, "not only poetic command over words but also a prose sense of the weight of their existence". The reviewer points out that "Nowicka clearly does not care for smoothness and prettiness, her attention is caught by vivid experience and expertise, proximate ugliness and existential anxiety." In the finals, the poet beat six other writers, including another poet, Piotr Matywiecki and his "Którędy na zawsze" collection of poems.

In general, poetry made it into the finals 34 times. The prize is most often contended for by novels (50 works), but there were also nominations for 15 reports, 9 biographies and even a comic book. So on the shelves we put 140 items written by 93 authors over 20 years. Tadeusz Rozewicz got into the finals six times but eventually won the Nike statuette only once, in 2000, with his volume of poetry “Matka odchodzi” (“Mother departs").

As regards the thickness of the books in the finals, we express this as the lean years and the fat. In the first year of the Nike awards, the best Polish books ran to 2,300 pages. The leanest year was 2003, when the finalists comprised a total of 979 pages. The shock came in 2007 - the thickness of finalists was clearly growing and the absolute peak was 2008 – when the world financial crisis struck, and the jury nominated nearly 3,000 pages! The contracts for these books were signed no later than 2006, when the publishing world was much more willing to take risks. The year 2016 was in this respect faithful to the fat tome. The weightiest work came from the pen of Andrzej Franaszek, a 959-page biography of Czeslaw Milosz (2012). This year's finalists notched up 1,862 pages, which averages 266 per volume and this is the lowest figure since 2009.

The Nike readers’ award went this year to Magdalena Grzebałkowska. Up till now, she had been the choice of the jury and the readers five times. The absolute queen of the Nikes is Olga Tokarczuk, with seven awards for five books. Twice the decision of the jury confirmed the readers’ choice (a double Nike for the novels “Księgi Jakubowe” ("The Book of Jacob") and "Bieguni".

Infographic: Jarosław Chudzik. Data preparation: Natalia Szostak, Jacek Świąder

Men are overwhelmingly predominant among the authors of books reaching the finals - 95 of 140. Altogether 63 men writers have reached the finals, as have 30 women writers. Men have taken main prize 14 times, and the readers' award 11 times. This year's competition was unique, as as many as four of the seven books nominated were written by women. None of this year's finalist has ever been a winner, although Piotr Matywiecki figured three times as a finalist.

Infographic: Jarosław Chudzik. Data preparation: Natalia Szostak, Jacek Świąder

For Biuro Literackie this is the second statuette and seventh nomination. The most recognized by the Nuke jury are: Wydawnictwo Literackie (23 titles), then W.A.B. (22) and Czarne (16). Znak is in fourth place (15), and the top five ends with Sic! (8). Interestingly, Wydawnictwo Literackie frequently produces thinner volumes, while thick tomes published by W.A.B. dominate the shelf visually.

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