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Jerzy Kosiński Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Conversations with Jerzy Kosinski (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

Publication Order of Anthologies

Fiction International, No.1, Fall 1973(1973)Description / Buy at Amazon

About Jerzy Kosiński

Jerzy Kosiński was a Polish-American novelist who graced the American literature scene with his captivating works. Not only did he achieve success as a writer, but he also assumed the role of a two-time president for the American Chapter of P.E.N. Born and raised in Poland, Kosiński experienced the harsh realities of World War II, yet he emerged triumphant and ventured into the world of literature. He later migrated to the U.S., embracing the country as his new home, and becoming a full-fledged citizen.

Kosiński was not just an ordinary writer but a versatile one who mastered the art of narrating stories in English. His magical touch in developing stories was evident in various novels, each leaving a significant impression on the readers. From creating imaginary worlds to evoking intense emotions, his works represented the epitome of literary brilliance and creativity.

Among his multitude of works, ‘Being There’ (1971) and ‘The Painted Bird’ (1965) are applauded for their in-depth storylines and alluring narratives. These novels pushed boundaries, paving the way for major film adaptations in 1979 and 2019 respectively. Kosiński’s stories continue to inspire and influence generations, demonstrating the power of a narrative brought to life beautifully.

Reading Kosiński is indeed a journey into understanding the contours of human life, a journey well worth experiencing.

Early and Personal Life

Born in Poland to Jewish parents, Jerzy Kosiński, nee Józef Lewinkopf, had a unique and challenging childhood. During the trying period of World War II, Kosiński lived with a false identity, bestowed upon him by his father to protect the family. This event, aided by town heroes and brave locals, who risked their safety to help Polish Jews survive the Holocaust, shaped his early years and inspired the stories he would later write.

Post-war, Kosiński’s thirst for knowledge drove him to earn graduate degrees in history and sociology from the University of Łódź by the age of 22. He then ventured into academia, serving as a teaching assistant at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Despite his already impressive resume, Kosiński was not content with staying in one place, and through resourceful means, migrated to the United States in 1957.

Life in America started with humble beginnings, with Kosiński working odd jobs such as truck driving. However, his perseverance paid off when he became a graduate from Columbia University. With grants from the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Ford Foundation, Kosiński wrote a political non-fiction book that led him to lecture at prestigious universities such as Yale and Princeton. Despite the toll of his early life, Kosiński’s resilience and drive for success remained a constant, leading him to continually excel and contribute to the literary world.

Kosiński would later marry American steel heiress Mary Hayward Weir, though they divorced after four years. He then married Katherina ‘Kiki’ von Fraunhofer, a descendant of Bavarian nobility. Kosiński lived a colorful and varied life, with his writing inspired by his experiences. The legacies left behind by this exceptional individual continue to resonate and inspire many.

Writing Career

Celebrated author Jerzy Kosiński crafted novels that touched the world. His works pushed boundaries, making their way onto The New York Times Best Seller list, selling approximately 70 million copies by 1991 and being translated into over 30 languages.

His unforgettable piece, “The Painted Bird” from 1965, narrated the adventures of a young boy in war-torn Eastern Europe. Despite backlash from the Polish government of the time labeling it as anti-Polish and banning it, the book soared in popularity. Critics and readers held it in high regard, with laudations coming from respected personalities like Elie Wiesel, Richard Kluger, and Jonathan Yardley.

Another one of Kosiński’s masterpieces, the 1968 novel ‘Steps,’ won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. Its surrealistic narrative won the hearts of many, including American author David Foster Wallace, who likened its brilliance to Kafka’s fragments.

Kosiński delved into America’s media-driven society with ‘Being There’ in 1971. This exceptional novel which highlights the journey of an average man to a Wall Street magnate was later adapted into a critically acclaimed movie in 1979.

With an extensive bibliography spanning from essays to novels, Kosiński made a significant mark in literature. His works, some even penned under the pseudonym Joseph Novak and his appearances in films like ‘Reds’ and ‘Religion, Inc.’ further exhibit his versatility.

His written pieces garnered a variety of awards, including the coveted Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger for ‘The Painted Bird,’ the B’rith Shalom Humanitarian Freedom Award, and several honorary PhDs. These achievements, combined with his diverse body of work, underscore Kosiński’s influential role in literary circles.

The Painted Bird

‘The Painted Bird’ is a seminal historical novel penned by author Jerzy Kosiński. This influential work first hit the literary scene in 1965. Its publication was mediated by the Houghton Mifflin publishing house.

The story tracks the journey of a young boy left alone amidst World War II. It’s a chilling tale that brings the stark realities of war into focus. The novel underscores the unsettling closeness of fear and brutality to purity and affection. It’s a compelling narrative that balances darkness with light.


‘Steps,’ a compilation of short stories, was crafted by the acclaimed writer, Jerzy Kosiński. This striking book was originally published in 1968 through the publisher Random House.

Jerzy Kosinski’s forceful narrative captures unsettling aspects of contemporary politics and society. This impactful novel blurs the lines between the dominant and the dominated, the wrongdoer and the harmed, self-advertisement and namelessness.

It depicts individuals aroused yet numbed by a setting that disregards personal identity and aims for domination over creativity. It is an unforgettably thought-provoking masterpiece.

Being There

‘Being There,’ a celebrated comedy classic, was authored by Jerzy Kosiński and published initially in 1971. The publisher Harcourt Brace was responsible for its release. Later, in 1979, it was transformed into a film directed by Robert C. Jones, featuring Peter Sellers in the lead-role.

Chauncey Gardiner, or Chance, is a captivating character who steps into fame from obscurity, turning into a Wall Street mogul’s heir, a government policy advisor, and a media personality. Known as “a man without qualities,” his simple replies to societal issues are seen as insightful.

But while his words become popular, their true meaning stays elusive. And trying to find out his history turns out to be a task that cannot be accomplished.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jerzy Kosiński

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