A book written from the heart, ‘Hoża – my street’ by Paweł Kłudkiewicz has become the essential pick-up of the summer…
A work of extraordinary depth and integrity, ‘Hoża – my street’ refuses to be defined. Is it a guidebook? Sort of. But it is so much more than that. Authored by Paweł Kłudkiewicz, it’s the story of a street told through an intensely personal lens.
Reading it, and admiring the fun and funky illustrations, you feel Kłudkiewicz’s voice coming through. More specifically, you feel, almost, as if he’s actually right next to you.
This journey into his world is easy to make – such is the detail, the author takes us into his housing block, and even into his apartment: “When I look out [from my window], I see a car park, a tree lane and a succession of shops… During the day, there’s always some noisy renovation going on or a new signboard being installed.”
Riddled with personal observations, Kłudkiewicz continues to wryly comment on the constant honking of horns and slamming of doors; of the refuse lorries that clang down the streets and “the mechanical clicking of suitcase wheels”.
On the streets, meanwhile, we meet an assembly of local characters – Mr. Uniform, for instance, an elderly man who hobbles around in a jacket adorned “with hundreds of pins, orders and embellishments”.
Yes, I’ve seen him myself, you find yourself saying. There’s a familiarity here that goes beyond Kłudkiewicz’s informal, revelatory style. It’s a Warsaw that we can all recognize.
But beyond the private reflections and casual remarks, the book is also pitted with nuggets of information and historical facts. We learn about some of the Polish greats that have lived in these ends (step forward Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz), step inside legendary dives like the Drink Bar, and discover the hidden architectural glories of Hoża and beyond.
“It’s worth paying attention to the building at Hoża 58,” the author tells the Insider. “It’s a postmodern block from around 2000, but when one looks closer you’ll find that the architects incorporated the preserved gate of a 19th century tenement into the new building. And then you have the raw brick Serwar factory – operating until 2010, today it’s worth going deeper into its courtyard to find great ice cream and coffee as well a number of art studios.”
A unique micro district, this section of Warsaw comes vibrantly alive in this book. “This street is Warsaw in a nutshell,” Kłudkiewicz says. “Though only 1.5 kilometers in length, you have everything from undisturbed pre-war buildings, to Communist era architecture to contemporary blocks. Within half-an-hour of walking the street, you’ve caught the atmosphere of the entire capital city.”
Heavily mined with old-fashioned two-tone illustrations, these bring a visual impact to his words. A loving tribute to his area, it’s a book in which the clashes and contrasts of Warsaw come richly to life.
“I really like the small hipster businesses on Hoża, but also that you can still also find old places where you can repair your shoes… and there’s so many surprising stories to be found – this is where the US Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzeziński was born, and also where Leopold Infeld, a longtime collaborator of Albert Einstein, worked.”
Tender in its sentiment, yet also highly informative, it’s a book that makes you feel like… well, a Warsaw insider…
Hoża, my street is priced at PLN 65 and can be bought at Bęc Zmiana on Mokotowska 65 or ordered online at: web