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Prize-winning Polish-US playwright Janusz Glowacki dies

Renowned Polish-U.S. playwright and screenwriter Janusz Glowacki, who won top prizes for his bitter, ironic analysis of the difficult lives of immigrants, died Saturday at 78.

His wife, actress Olena Leonenko-Glowacka, announced his death but its cause was not immediately revealed.

Popular in New York and Polish artistic and intellectual circles, Glowacki was the author of award-winning plays "Antigone in New York" and "The Fourth Sister," which set classic themes in the contemporary world. A keen observer of reality, Glowacki's works are permeated with sarcasm but also with sympathy for the often-futile struggles of his characters.

Born in 1938 in Poznan, western Poland, he made a name for himself in the 1960s with short stories and screenplays, including for the movie "Hunting Flies" by Poland's leading filmmaker Andrzej Wajda. His dark and absurd humor was also helpful in protecting his works from censors, like the 1970 movie "The Cruise" that in a convoluted way showed the absurdities of life under communism in Poland.

He settled in New York in the early 1980s, choosing not to return to Poland after its communist authorities imposed martial law. He was in London for the opening of his play "Cinders" when the clampdown was announced.

Glowacki did return to Warsaw after the 1989 ouster of communist rule.

In 1987, his drama "Hunting Cockroaches" won the Hollywood Drama League Critics Award. "Antigone in New York" was awarded the Le Balladine Award in Paris for the best play of 1997, and "The Fourth Sister" won the main Grand Prize at the International Theatre Festival in Dubrovnik in 2001.

Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Glowacki is also survived by his daughter, Zuzanna Glowacka, and his ex-wife, Ewa Zadrzynska.

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