Krzysztof Majer, Assistant Professor in the Department of American Literature at the University of Łódź, Poland writes on North American fiction, intermediality and Jewish culture. Since 2014 he has collaborated with Canadian Literature as reviewer of criticism and fiction. He has published, among others, on Vladimir Nabokov, Mordecai Richler, Jack Kerouac, Steven Millhauser, Thomas Bernhard, the Coen brothers, and M. A. Jarman. He edited Beirut to Carnival City: Reading Rawi Hage (Brill, 2019) and co-edited Kanade, di Goldene Medine? Perspectives on Canadian-Jewish Literature and Culture (Brill, 2018). As a translator of literature, he has received and been nominated for several prizes. In 2015, with writers Madeleine Thien and Rawi Hage, he was awarded residence at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Among others, he has translated Michael Herr’s Dispatches, Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue, Patrick deWitt’s Undermajordomo Minor, two volumes of Allen Ginsberg’s letters and a selection of Bill Gaston’s short stories.
While deWitt’s writing enjoys commercial and critical success, it has inspired very little academic scrutiny. This is perhaps due to deWitt’s avoidance of Canadian settings and themes in favor of motifs from American popular culture or European folktales. Just as The Sisters Brothers (2011) relied on deWitt’s ironic use of the Western formula, so Undermajordomo Minor (2015) constitutes a playful attempt at rejuvenating several tired genres. In the story of young Lucy Minor’s acquisition of a dubious post at the eerie Castle Von Aux there are unmistakable elements of the Gothic romance, the fable, and the Bildungsroman, all spiced up with a quirky cinematic aesthetic. Equally strong are the echoes of Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, Kafka’s The Castle, and Bernhard’s Gargoyles, themselves richly interconnected. Through these diverse allusions and a curious blurring of geographical and historical boundaries, deWitt creates transgeneric fiction, which may be understood as transnational in the sense assumed by Kit Dobson or Peter Morgan.