The Painted Bird BY Kosinski, Jerzy

Published: April 22, 1989 New York Times

WARSAW, April 21— Thousands of Poles waited for up to eight hours at a Warsaw bookshop today to buy a novel that had been banned in Poland for 23 years.

Crowds packed the bookshop of an official publishing house where Jerzy Kosinski, a Polish-born American author, autographed the first copies of his novel ''The Painted Bird'' to appear in Poland.

''I think things are changing to what they should be,'' said a 20-year-old student in the crowd. ''This is not the only controversial book from the West that is being sold now.''

''The Painted Bird'' is among several once-banned novels being officially published in Poland for the first time. They include works by emigre Poles as well as George Orwell's ''Animal Farm.''

Mr. Kosinski's novel tells of a Jewish or gypsy boy whose eye is gouged out by peasants in one of several incidents long regarded by the authorities as depicting Poland as brutally anti-Semitic.

Mr. Kosinski, who survived World War II in a Jewish ghetto in Poland, was reviled as anti-Polish after the book appeared in the 1960's, particularly after 1968 when the authorities undertook an anti-Semitic campaign that forced many Jews to leave Poland.