Joanna Chmielewska was the pen name of Irena Kühn née Becker (2 April 1932 – 7 October 2013), a Polish novelist and screenwriter. Her work is often described as "ironic detective stories". Her novels, which have been translated into at least nine languages, have sold more than 6 million copies in Poland and over 10 million copies in Russia.
Born in Warsaw in 1932, Chmielewska graduated as an architect in 1954 from Warsaw University of Technology, and worked as a designer before devoting herself to writing. Her first short story was published in the popular magazine Kultura i Życie (Culture and Life) in 1958 and her first novel, Klin (The Wedge), in 1964. She loved horse races and gambling: both hobbies are mentioned extensively in her books. She was also a connoisseur of amber, a passion which forms the basis for her 1998 novel Złota mucha (The Golden Fly).
She wrote more than fifty novels. Most frequently, the protagonist is a woman called Joanna that inherits many characteristics from Chmielewska herself. She also often wrote about Joanna's friends like Alicja (We Are All Suspects, All in Red), co-workers (We Are All Suspects, Wild Protein) or family (The Forefathers' Wells, Bad Luck).
As of September 2008, there are no published English language translations of Chmielewska's work, and so the exact translation of the Polish titles into English can vary from source to source.
^The term "ironic detective stories" appears to arise from the collection Иронический детектив (ironicheskij detektiv) in which the Russian translations of her work are published by Phantom Press, Moscow. It is also used by the Internet Movie Database and by the site culture.pl, among others.