A highly artistic study of death encapsulated in moving stories set in Poland's Beskid Mountains region. Translated from Polish by Kate Webster.

White Nights is a series of thirteen interconnected stories concerning the various tragedies and misfortunes that befall a group of people who all grew up and live(d) in the same village in the Beskid Niski region, in southern Poland. Each story centres itself around a different character and how it is that they manage to cope, survive or merely exist, despite, and often in ignorance of, the poverty, disappointment, tragedy, despair, brutality and general sense of futility that surrounds them.

White Nights was longlisted for the International Booker Prize 2024, announced on March 11 2024.

The International Booker Prize 2024
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MTO Press
Publication date

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Portrait of author Urszula Honek

Urszula Honek

About the Author

Urszula Honek was born in Racławice, Poland in 1987. She is the author of three poetry books: Sporysz (2015), Pod wezwaniem (2018), Zimowanie (2021) and a short story collection: Białe noce (2022).

More about Urszula Honek
Portrait of translator Kate Webster

Kate Webster

About the Author

Kate Webster is a translator of Polish to English, based in London.
More about Kate Webster

What the International Booker Prize 2024 judges said

‘A haunting series of interconnected stories set in a small town in the Beskid Mountains of Poland, a place enveloped by the continuous daylight of the summer months. Through a cast of characters each facing their own existential crises, Honek crafts a narrative mosaic that explores themes of isolation, identity, death, and the longing for connection. The book’s strength lies in its ability to capture the intense, dreamlike quality of its setting, where the natural phenomenon of “white nights” serves as a backdrop for the characters’ introspective journeys. White Nights is a dark, lyrical exploration of the ways in which people seek meaning and belonging in a transient world.’  

Group photo of the International Booker Prize 2024 Judges; Romesh Gunesekera, Natalie Diaz, William Kentridge, Eleanor Wachtel and Aaron Robertson.

What the critics said

Jennifer Brough, Litro Magazine

‘The debut short story from Polish writer Urszula Honek, White Nights, is akin to reading an account of a haunted place – one that is beautiful and devastating in equal measure. The 13 haunting stories in White Nights feature well-drawn characters from a village in the Beskid Mountains, southern Poland. Though firmly categorizable as literary fiction, my eerie detector prickled at the dreamlike, latent danger threading through these interconnected chronicles. Throughout the reading, the text slipped from ethnographical archive to folk horror to a Lorca-esque play and back.’

Paulina Małochleb, Empik Critics’ Choice

‘Honek with complete cruelty, but also mastery, symbolically kills her influences. She stands firmly on her own two feet, moving readers with her own voice – immediately clear, set and full.’