He was born on 26 December 1935 in Warsaw. His father was Henryk Orłoś - a scientist, for many years a director of the Forest Fitopathology Research Centre in the Forest Research Institute. His mother was Seweryna, née Mackiewicz - a teacher, a graduate of the Institute of Special Pedagogy, the sister of the writers and publicists, Stanisław Cat- and Józef Mackiewicz.
He spent his childhood, which almost entirely corresponded with the years of German occupation of Poland, with his parents, at first in Warsaw, then, from 1941 to 1943 in Dąbrowki near Lancut, where his younger brother Jarosław died, and again in Warsaw. His family was expelled from there during the Warsaw Insurrection in 1944 and he spent the rest of the wartime in Rawa Mazowiecka. After the war, he lived in Lódź, whence he returned to his home town. He finished a primary school there and passed his matura exams (final exams of secondary level education) in Tadeusz Reytan Secondary School for Boys.
For a few months in 1961 he worked as an
investigator in the legal office of the Mining and Power Plant
"Turów" in Turoszów in the Lower Silesia. Later, he concentrated
more intensively on his literary works, publishing his short stories
and reports among others in Twórczosc, Tygodnik
Kulturalny Orka and Współczesność.
In 1963, after moving to the Bieszczady Mountains, he worked as a
solicitor for the water plant "Solina", until its construction was
finished. In the meantime, he continued his literary career,
starting cooperation with radio and film world. In 1968 he took a
sea cruise, calling at Antwerp, Dunkirk, Tripolis, Chalkis, Athens,
Constantinopole, Izmir, Cyprus, Beirut, Tangier and Lisbon.
In 1972 he joined the editorial staff of Literatura, working part-time in the report section. Having received the Kościelskis' Literaray Award, he spent two weeks in Geneva, visited Paris and in Munich met his uncle Józef Mackiewicz, who was living and working abroad. In the same year his daughter Joanna was born. In the end of the year he travelled to Moscow.
In 1973 he forsook the benefits of the pen-name (which in a totalitarian country were much more than shielding an author from unwanted popularity) and in the Literary Institute in Paris published under his own name a novel, A Marvelous Hangout (banned from publishing by the censorship in Poland), criticising irregularities of the communistic state machinery in the provinces. Reprisals did not take long to follow: he was made redundant in his jobs in the Polish Radio and editorial staff of Literatura and added to the register of censored authors, which meant a definite ban on printing both his works and publications concerning him.
During the period of dramatic political transformations in the 80s he published artistic prose, reviews and articles on cultural and social subjects on pages of magazines published in Poland outside censor control: in Nowy Zapis (1982-1983 as a member of editorial staff) and in Kultura Niezależna (1987 1989), as well as in Paris Kultura and Puls, which was published in London. In the years of 1988-1994 he cooperated with the Polish Broadcasting Station of Radio Free Europe. He appeared in the official circulation only after 1989, republishing the books which appeared in clandestine circulation and publishing new ones, as well as writing for "Solidarność" Weekly, Gazeta Wyborcza, Rzeczpospolita, Życie and Gazeta Polska and renewing cooperation with radio and television.