Julian Stryjkowski, born Pesach Stark (April 27, 1905 – August 8, 1996) was a Polish journalist and writer, notable for his social prose of radical leftist leanings. He was considered one of the best Polish-Jewish writers of the communist era.
Stryjkowski was born April 27, 1905 in Stryj (Austrian partition, modern Ukraine), to a family of Hasidic Jews. He graduated from the Faculty of Polish Studies and literature of Jan Kazimierz University in Lwów and in 1932 started working as a teacher of Polish language in a gymnasium in Płock in central Poland. Initially a Zionist, in 1934 he joined the delegalized Communist Party of Western Ukraine and began teaching his own pupils Communist ideology, for which he was arrested and imprisoned in 1935. Upon his release the following year he moved to Warsaw, where he started working as a journalist for various newspapers, and as a library clerk. About that time he also started his work on the Polish translation of Céline's Death on the Installment Plan.
World War II
After the 1939 invasion of Poland Stryjkowski escaped from Warsaw to Soviet-occupied Lwów (modern Lviv, Ukraine), where he was among the journalists of Czerwony Sztandar, a Polish language propaganda newspaper published by the Soviets, and the only newspaper available to city's inhabitants apart from the Pravda. After the end of Nazi-Soviet Pact and the outbreak of Operation Barbarossa through Tarnopol, Kiev and Stalingrad he escaped to Kuybyshev, where he tried to join the Polish II Corps. Unsuccessful, he moved to Uzbekistan, where he started working as a factory worker. On insistence of Wanda Wasilewska he was allowed by the Soviet authorities to move to Moscow, where he started working for the Wolna Polska weekly, the organ of Society of Polish Patriots, a communist and Soviet-backed shadow government of Poland. There he adopted the pen name of Julian Stryjkowski, which after World War II became his official surname.
He returned to Poland in 1946 and became the head of Katowice branch of the Polish Press Agency. Between 1949 and 1952 he headed that agency's bureau in Rome. However, he was deported from Italy after having published a strongly anti-capitalist novel on the fate of Italian landless peasants. Upon his return to Poland he started working as the head of prose division of the Tworczosc weekly devoted to modern literature. He held that post until his retirement in 1978. Initially strongly devoted to Communism, in 1966 he quit the Polish United Workers' Party as a protest against the Communist suppression of art, science and culture, along with other notable Polish writers of the epoch. After that move, it was not until 1978 that his novels were again allowed by the censorship. He died August 8, 1996 in Warsaw.