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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for Prince in a Pastry Shop
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In a beautifully illustrated story for adults that is playful, philosophical, and with a wink of naughtiness, two characters—the Not-So-Little-Prince and Prickly Pear—consider the nature of happiness while eating confections in a bakery.

Translated by Benjamin Paloff

Much more than a tale of sweet indulgence, Prince in a Pastry Shop touches on a fundamental question important to us all, from preschooler to pensioner: what does it mean to be happy? Is happiness to be found in the smallest, most visceral of experiences like eating a sugar-dusted donut? Can we truly experience happiness while there is suffering in the world? Is there a great cosmic balance that demands for every happy moment there also be a moment of sorrow? Can we be happy knowing that it’s a fleeting condition? Can we really know and understand happiness while we’re experiencing it? 
"Happiness is nothing but trouble,” says the Prince. For Prickly Pear, happiness simply tastes like a cupcake or profiterole.
Writer Marek Bieńczyk, the winner of the Nike prize, the most important literature award in Poland, joins with the brilliant Polish illustrator Joanna Concejo whose detailed pencil drawings create a wonderland, where sitting at a café table morphs into a dreamscape with animals, a borderland between waking and dreaming.
With a very light touch Prince in a Pastry Shop asks one of the most profound questions of our existence: is it enough to appreciate each moment of sweetness—and at what cost—or must we be active in an unforgiving world to find contentment.

Collected in  

Mental Health Matters
Book cover for Prince in a Pastry Shop
Book cover for Prince in a Pastry ShopBook cover for Prince in a Pastry ShopBook cover for Prince in a Pastry ShopBook cover for Prince in a Pastry Shop

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“Bienczyk and Concejo, with Paloff as translator, have produced a text for those individuals interested in happiness, but who are not exactly cheerful about the nature of joy. However, the writer, illustrator, and translator are honest, and the text is phenomenally crafted. Much like the donuts and napoleons enjoyed by the Not-So-Little Prince ad Prickly Pear, this book is satiating and sweet.”

Joanna Concejo

Illustrator JOANNA CONCEJO (b. 1971) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland. Her work has been exhibited in salons and exhibitions France, South Korea, Portugal, and the Bologna Children's International Book Fair where her work won a Bologna Ragazzi Award Mention, and many other places. She is author and illustrator of books published in Poland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and South Korea. In 2013 she was Winner of the IBBY Book of Year for graphic design (for Ksiaze w Cukierni/ Prince in a pastry shop, Format Editions), and in 2018 received a Mention/Fiction (for Zgubiona dusza / The Lost Soul). She lives outside of Paris, France. 

Marek Bienczyk

MAREK BIEŃCZYK (b. 1956, Poland) is the winner of NIKE Literary Award, the most prestigious award for Polish literature,. He is the author of fiction and essays, a historian of literature, and a translator from French (for books by Milan Kundera, Roland Barthes, Emil Cioran, and others). Bieńczyk is the author of two novels, Terminal (1994) and the award-winning Tworki (1999), and the essay collections: Dürer’s Eyes–On Romantic Melancholy (2002), Transparency (2007), and Face Book (2011, Nike Award). His works have been translated into English, French, Spanish, German, Russian and Bulgarian. He lives in Poland.