Magdalena Bożko - Kobalt

Kobalt - Magdalena Bożko

I found this little book in a discount bookshop on one my trips to Poland. It cost something equivalent to 30p or 50 cents and as books cost about the same in Poland as they cost in the UK (that’s a story for a different time) it was a crazy bargain.


After reading and enjoying it I did what I always do – went on the internet to see who agreed with me.  And here is the shocking bit and the reason I feel I owe the world this review – it seems that no one in the whole world wide web has read Kobalt. It was published in 2003, when the internet was already doing quite well even in Poland, so I really don’t understand why no one admits to having read it. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in the world that has read this novel. Maybe there really is only this one copy that somehow found its way to me ten years after the publication. I was its first reader and until then the book had been a virgin. Of course, that way madness lies.  You let your mind wander that way and you end up like the characters in this novel. A stock/commodity broker working on the still fairly young Warsaw Stock Exchange who develops a master plan to make a fortune on cobalt and a journalist who develops a crush on the broker. I absolutely loved this unique blend of a thriller and existential tale of gentle madness set in the early days of Polish capitalism. 


I feel like it was a story about how, despite traumatic experiences, new  year resolutions, promises to loved ones, in the end people revert to their personalities and everything else is an aberration that’s eventually corrected by the universe. But maybe that’s completely not what this story was about. I could have misunderstood it and I am obliged to put this disclaimer here knowing that this will be the only review of this book to be found online, so that’s obviously an enormous responsibility.


I would also like to point out that this book came as a surprising aid during a particularly brutal Trivial Pursuit game when I got ‘a chemical element and a shade of blue’ question.  There was nothing trivial about my victory then, let me assure you.


Anyway, if you like the sound of it and you read in Polish, come speak to me I’ll lend you my copy. If you don’t read in Polish (still for some reason), then start learning now, I suggest.



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