This article deals with the rise in the Polish literature of 1970s of a new type of biographical novel, associated with the fi rst post-war generation of writers like Bohdan Zadura, Julian Kornhauser, Adam Zagajewski, Henryk Lothamer, Stanisław Piskor and Donat Kirsch. Their work is subsumed here under the label ‘new fi ction’ primarily because of its literary context, i.e. the late-modern fears and uncertainties culminating in the assumption that literature reached the state of exhaustion. The article argues that the ‘new fi ction’ acquired its distinctive character from a preoccupation with the biographical narrative and a sense of generational identity. The writers who defi ned themselves in these generational terms saw their prospect of following their aspirations and building up authentic lives weighed down by the constricting realities, and, as the article claims, resigned themselves – at best not entirely – to this sad conclusion.