“Are My Roots Showing” is a light hearted fictional breeze through the exploits of British born Magda Mikołajczyk, as she goes to Warsaw to teach Polish.
It’s full of wonderful “ponglish” phrases like potrzebujesz plumbera? (need a plumber), reflections on being brought up in the UK and being called a “half-baked British Pole” by her crabby Polish cousin Dagmara who hates all things British to excess. Being 39, with a mother desperate to get her married off, she is forced to sign up to Polishmate, an online dating site with interesting consequences.
Although not everything goes to plan for Magda and there are serious parts, it’s a brilliant observation on the massive changes in Poland since communist times and the values that reinforce Polish life, such as food, history and family.
The author Karola Gajda was born in Doncaster and this is her first book with characters very loosely based on herself and the people around her. Published in 2016 I’d absolutely recommend it for a read and a good chuckle.
I spent a month at Warsaw University in 2001 and I recognise much of what Karola has defined. At that time, when I was doing research for a dissertation, my British accent opened so many doors to me. I interviewed the heartthrob of the time, Tomasz Kammel, a young actor and TV presenter. My cousin’s wife and daughter couldn’t believe it at the time, hanging on every word he’d spoken to me. Now, the minute I speak, people immediately comment in a derogatory way that I’ve lived in the UK far too long but are pleasantly surprised when I say I was born here. We are no longer a novelty – there are many British Poles living in Poland but the minute you speak some Polish, assumptions are made that your language is extensive, as Magda soon finds out…
Win a copy of the book by entering the competition here.