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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Excerpt: Prince in a Pastry Shop by Marek Bienczyk and Joanna Concejo

April 26

by Seven Stories Press

To celebrate the release of Prince in a Pastry Shop by Marek Bienczyk, illustrated Joanna Concejo, and translated from the Polish by Benjamin Paloff, we are proud to share an excerpt from the book: a set of three spreads in which the two characters, Not-So-Little-Prince and Prickly Pair, dreamily discuss the nature of happiness as they eat confections.

“There's the rub: happiness passes us by quite unnoticed. You expect genuine happiness, that it's like, ‘Oh, it'll be here tomorrow, in a week, eventually.’  And it never occurs to you that you're living it here and now. Eating this napoleon with me, and now this truffle ... But I would recommend the donut, it’s the best.”



Click the images below to see the spreads in large format.


In a beautifully illustrated story for adults, one that is playful, slightly naughty, and charmingly philosophical, two characters — the Not-So-Little-Prince and Prickly Pear — consider the nature of happiness, all the while feasting on confections in a bakery.

Much more than a tale of sweet indulgence, Prince in a Pastry Shop touches on a fundamental question: 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 Not-So-Little-Prince. For Prickly Pear, happiness simply tastes like a cupcake or profiterole.
 
The words of writer Marek Bieńczyk, winner of Poland’s prestigious Nike prize, pair with artist Joanna Concejo’s illustrations to 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?


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