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Swimming in the Dark
by Tomasz Jedrowski




Overview -

Named A Best Book of 2020 by NPR

"Imagine Call Me By Your Name set in Communist Poland and you'll get a sense of Jedrowski's moving debut about a consuming love affair amidst a country being torn apart." -- O, The Oprah Magazine

"Captivating both for its shimmering surfaces and its terrifying depths. Tomasz Jedrowski is a remarkable writer." -- Justin Torres, bestselling author of We the Animals

Set in early 1980s Poland against the violent decline of Communism, a tender and passionate story of first love between two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide--a stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of Andr Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.

When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this hand-some, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are ful-filled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks in the countryside, bonding over an illicit copy of James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room. Inhabiting a beautiful, natural world removed from society and its con-straints, Ludwik and Janusz fall deeply in love. But in their repressive Communist and Catholic society, the passion they share is utterly unthinkable.

Once they return to Warsaw, the charismatic Janusz quickly rises in the political ranks of the party and is rewarded with a highly coveted government position. Ludwik is drawn toward impulsive acts of protest, unable to ignore rising food prices and the stark economic disparity around them. Their secret love and personal and political differences slowly begin to tear them apart as both men struggle to survive in a regime on the brink of collapse.

Shifting from the intoxication of first love to the quiet melancholy of growing up and growing apart, Swimming in the Dark is a potent blend of romance, postwar politics, intrigue, and history. Lyrical and sensual, immersive and intense, Tomasz Jedrowski's indelible and thought-provoking literary debut explores freedom and love in all its incarnations.

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More About Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

 
 
 

Overview

Named A Best Book of 2020 by NPR

"Imagine Call Me By Your Name set in Communist Poland and you'll get a sense of Jedrowski's moving debut about a consuming love affair amidst a country being torn apart." -- O, The Oprah Magazine

"Captivating both for its shimmering surfaces and its terrifying depths. Tomasz Jedrowski is a remarkable writer." -- Justin Torres, bestselling author of We the Animals

Set in early 1980s Poland against the violent decline of Communism, a tender and passionate story of first love between two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide--a stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of Andr Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.

When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this hand-some, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are ful-filled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks in the countryside, bonding over an illicit copy of James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room. Inhabiting a beautiful, natural world removed from society and its con-straints, Ludwik and Janusz fall deeply in love. But in their repressive Communist and Catholic society, the passion they share is utterly unthinkable.

Once they return to Warsaw, the charismatic Janusz quickly rises in the political ranks of the party and is rewarded with a highly coveted government position. Ludwik is drawn toward impulsive acts of protest, unable to ignore rising food prices and the stark economic disparity around them. Their secret love and personal and political differences slowly begin to tear them apart as both men struggle to survive in a regime on the brink of collapse.

Shifting from the intoxication of first love to the quiet melancholy of growing up and growing apart, Swimming in the Dark is a potent blend of romance, postwar politics, intrigue, and history. Lyrical and sensual, immersive and intense, Tomasz Jedrowski's indelible and thought-provoking literary debut explores freedom and love in all its incarnations.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062890009
  • ISBN-10: 006289000X
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: April 2020
  • Page Count: 208
  • Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.6 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Swimming in the Dark

It’s tough to feel like you don’t belong. Most people experience this sensation at some point, but imagine how intense it would be if you were a gay man coming of age under a government that expected allegiance you weren’t prepared to offer.

That’s the situation in which Polish university student Ludwik Glowacki finds himself in Swimming in the Dark, a moving work set in 1980 and 1981. These were the early years of Solidarity (the first independent labor union in a Soviet-bloc country), which led to communist Poland’s declaration of martial law. When the government crackdown begins in ’81, Ludwik is living in New York. Radio reports of unrest rekindle memories of his homeland, specifically of the young man with whom he fell in love.

Most of this novel consists of flashbacks to events of the previous year. Ludwik meets Janusz at a work education camp shortly after they graduate from university. The two young men develop a friendship and swim together at a nearby river. Ludwik recommends Giovanni’s Room, the James Baldwin novel he hoped to make the subject of his dissertation. Soon they fall in love, an affair they have to hide.

But reality disrupts their idyll. As Ludwik’s mother and grandmother teach him about their country’s oppressive postwar history, Janusz becomes an enthusiastic member of the ruling party. Ludwik is forced to choose between the love of a man whose politics he questions and his desire to emulate Baldwin’s gay protagonist and leave his country to escape oppression.

First-time author Tomasz Jedrowski, born in Germany to Polish parents, sometimes tries too hard to be poetic (“the sun was already up, soft and new like a freshly peeled egg”), and Swimming in the Dark is a simpler affair than such recent works of gay literature as Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness. But Jedrowski is a sympathetic observer of politics, the personal as well as the governmental. Readers will find much to admire in this sensitive depiction of the awareness that is created when your sexuality and politics run up against society’s norms.

 

BAM Customer Reviews