Swimming in the Dark
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 Andre Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this handsome, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are fulfilled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks camping 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 constraints, 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 position in the ministry. 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, post-war politics, intrigue, and history. Lyrical and sensual, immersive and intense, Tomasz Jedrowski has crafted an indelible and thought-provoking literary debut that explores freedom and love in all its incarnations.

Swimming in the Dark Details

TitleSwimming in the Dark
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 28th, 2020
PublisherWilliam Morrow
ISBN-139780062890023
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, LGBT, Fiction, GLBT, Queer

Swimming in the Dark Review

  • Kai
    January 1, 1970
    when the dedication almost makes you cry, you know you're in for a good one
  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    we can never run with our lies indefinitely. Sooner or later we are forced to confront their darkness. We can choose the when not the if. And the longer we wait, the more painful and uncertain it will be. This is a stunning work of surpassing beauty!Tomasz Jedrowski - image from Interview MagazineLudwik Glowaki did not fit in. Communist Poland in the 1980s. A period when the old regime was beginning to crumble. A time when being gay was a criminal offense.Ludwik, living in New York City, looks …we can never run with our lies indefinitely. Sooner or later we are forced to confront their darkness. We can choose the when not the if. And the longer we wait, the more painful and uncertain it will be. This is a stunning work of surpassing beauty!Tomasz Jedrowski - image from Interview MagazineLudwik Glowaki did not fit in. Communist Poland in the 1980s. A period when the old regime was beginning to crumble. A time when being gay was a criminal offense.Ludwik, living in New York City, looks back at a life that is still young, remembers his first crush, on an older, more developed boy, one he came close to kissing, and certainly loved. But Beniek did not fit in either, for different reasons, and one day he mysteriously disappears. As a teen, Ludwik has a fleeting sexual experience. But when he is 22, he is sent to a typical communist re-education summer camp, to learn about peasant, farming life, riding with his schoolfriend Karolina. Over their four years in college she had introduced him to a variety of influences, Simone de Beauvoir. Milosz, Szymborska, Kapuscinski, and others. This is how I lived back then—through books. I locked myself into their stories, dreamt of their characters at night, pretended to be them. They were my armor against the hard edges of reality. I carried them with me wherever I went, like a talisman in my pocket, thinking of them as almost more real than the people around me, who spoke and lived in denial, destined, I thought, to never do anything worth recounting. Walking one day by the river near the camp, he sees a young man swimming, Janusz. They strike up a friendship, with Janusz encouraging Ludwik to step deeper and deeper into the water until he is swimming, in a clear sexual metaphor. Some people, some events, make you lose your head. They’re like guillotines, cutting your life in two, the dead and the alive, the before and after. While Janusz becomes Ludwik’s great love, they find themselves on opposite shores politically, as Janusz has made his peace with the existing power structure and wants to work his way up within it. Ludwik knows that he can never be himself in such a system and wants to pull Janusz away from what he sees as moral peril, but he is still living in a corrupt system, and sometimes compromise is unavoidable.A central literary element is James Baldwin’s groundbreaking novel, Giovanni’s Room. Ludwik gives it to Janusz to read, and it forms part of the bond between them, as they both relate to Baldwin’s protagonist, his struggles with sexual identity, and his ability to survive in a hostile society, with the freedom to be who he is, or without it. It felt as if the words and thoughts of the narrator—despite their agony, despite their pain—healed some of my agony and my pain, simply by existing. Freedom of diverse sorts is considered. It is clear that in this very corrupt society, the in-group, the party faithful, the party operatives, have much more freedom to do as they please than the rest of society. But this requires that they themselves become corrupt, (presuming they did not start out that way) overlook clear cases of governmental thievery or incompetence, taking excess material benefits for themselves, while others endure rationing and shortages. Questions of freedom extend to what subjects are considered politically appropriate for graduate school theses. Even the ability to get a seat in graduate school can be curtailed by a less-gifted student with a more powerful political connection. Freedom of movement can be constrained by corrupt officials in charge of granting passports. Everywhere you turn there are barriers to freedom, the freedom to love who you want, or the absence of it, obviously being central. My life was a tiny narrow corridor with no doors leading off it, a tunnel so narrow it bruised my elbows, with only one way to go. That or the void I told myself. That or leave. Jedrowski captures this beautifully, contrasting the stark differences between the decadence of those considered more equal than others, their access to materials and services, their condescension, with the meager existence of working people. Some people have little or no access to needed medical help, for example, while for others it is only a phone call away.Swimming and water imagery flows through this very brief novel, deepening when the two young men go on a post-camp holiday to a sylvan place that features a secluded lake. Throwing a fish back into a river later in the book taps the imagery to a different purpose. The oppressive gray, wintry, city is contrasted with the gentle, beautiful, blue-sky countryside, where love has a much freer rein, untrammeled by the heavy weight of urbanization. More contrasts present as workers organize and protest, but military forces beat them down. Freedom may be worth fighting for, but it will exact a heavy cost. Jedrowski captures the passion of young love, the intensity of growing into adulthood with its moral challenges and demands for compromise, and the struggle of coming to grips with a society that is both daunting and crumbling. The undercurrent of fear and oppression, and the prospect of imminent civil war is palpable. It rained for days on end. The drops drummed onto the rooftops and hammered the streets. Thunder growled like the anger of our forefathers. It felt like the city was under attack, like the city and its streets might begin to give way, dissolve, its life flowing into the Wisla and out into the cold depths of the sea. There have been many great books, great romances, set in times of political turmoil. Doctor Zhivago, on a far grander scale, comes to mind. But, while Swimming in the Dark is a much smaller book both in size and ambition, it captures that same sense of the earth crumbling beneath your feet. Similarly, it contrasts those who stay with those who go, showing their conflicts and motivations. I was reminded of The Unbearable Lightness of Being as well, for its portrayal of Eastern European oppression. It also summoned to mind great coming of age novels set in tumultuous times, like A Separate Peace.Tomasz Jedrowski’s first novel is a triumph. A tale of forbidden love in a time of conflict, a story of human warmth in a chilly age, a narrative that is written with exquisite sensitivity and great beauty and power. It is tender, moving, sensual, and engaging, while offering readers a close-up look at a turbulent time in a perilous place. Swimming in the Dark is an instant classic. Don’t miss it. We swam, fearless and free and invisible in the brilliant dark. Review posted – April 24, 2020Publication date – April 28, 2020=============================EXTRA STUFFI did not turn up any digital links for the author. If you are aware of any, please send them along.Interviews----- Interview Magazine - The Author Tomasz Jedrowski Keeps Coming Back to Giovanni’s Room by Christopher BollenFrankly, there is not much out there at present re interviews with the author. I expect by the time he produces a second book that situation will be improved. We do know that he is 34, or so, lives outside Paris, and was born in Germany to Polish parents. The novel was based on the world his parents lived in when they were young, and was inspired, at least in part, by the first man he met who was out, a friend of his parents, as he wondered what life had been like for him back then. Items of Interest-----James Baldwin - Giovanni’s Room PDF-----Czesław Miłosz - Nobel-Prize-winning Polish poet-----Wisława Szymborska - Nobel-Prize-winning Polish poet and essayist-----Ryszard Kapuściński - Polish journalist, photographer, poet, and author-----Solidarność - aka Solidarity - the Polish Labor union that played a central role in ending Communist rule-----Quo Vadis - an 1895 historical novel by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz Songs-----Donna Summer – I Feel Love ----- Donna Summer – Bad Girls-----Blondie - Heart of Glass-----Everly Brothers - All I Have To Do Is Dream
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Swimming in the Dark is a debut novel by Tomasz Jedrowski a graduate from Cambridge University and the University of Paris. Born in Germany to college parents, he has lived in several countries, including Poland, and currently lives outside Paris, France.This tender-compassionately-told story is set in the early 1980s Poland.set against the violent decline of communism. At the very beginning of the story we are introduced to a memory from when Ludwik, (in his 20s), was a young 9 year old boy “Swimming in the Dark” is a debut novel by Tomasz Jedrowski — a graduate from Cambridge University and the University of Paris. Born in Germany to college parents, he has lived in several countries, including Poland, and currently lives outside Paris, France.This tender-compassionately-told story is set in the early 1980’s Poland….set against the violent decline of communism. At the very beginning of the story we are introduced to a memory from when Ludwik, (in his 20’s), was a young 9 year old boy…..remembering his childhood friend, Beniek. Ludwik was actually writing a note to Janusz, a guy he met when he was a university student….a past lover who he could not erase from his mind. Ludwik hadn’t seen Janusz for a year since leaving Poland for America. Ludwik had an intense affair with Janusz when they were in college — having first met at a summer agriculture camp. Ludwik had never told Janusz about Beniek….and felt the need to write him and share his childhood story- about Beniek - a love he withheld. Ludwik and Beniek, both 9 years of age, had known each other almost all their lives. They lived in the neighborhood, Wroclaw, in Poland. They went to the same community church — both attended Bible school twice a week. They were normal boys —playing as kids do. They would go to the beach and climb the dunes -enjoyed their friendships. But one day — Ludwik looked at Beniek with desires, fears, and shame. He was having sexual feelings for him. “Beniek was a reminder that I had unleashed something terrible into the world, something precious and dangerous”. Beniek was also Jewish, and never attended the communion celebration service with Ludwik, ‘because’ he was Jewish. Ludwik didn’t care about religion —didn’t know Beniek was “different” from him as his mother said. Beniek was simply his best friend….and the boy he was growing feelings for. One day —Beniek was just gone. His family left for Israel. The word “Israel” was a whisper to Ludwik and meant nothing to him……only sadness that Beniek was gone. “Tears started to slide down my cheeks like melted butter”. Ludwik’s had no closure. In Ludwik’s mind — that first attraction -that first love — is what made it possible for Ludwik to meet Janusz years later.A little history ….about the setting… of this political/love story..At the end of the war, the east of Germany became Poland and the rest of Poland became the Soviet Union. Ludwik’s Granny (and family) was forced to leave their land near Lwow. The Soviets took their houses and hauled them on the same cattle trains that had brought Jews to camps a year or two earlier. For over a century Poland had been divided by Russia and Germany, and it had ceased to exist on the maps. From his mother and grandmother —Ludwik learned how after years of occupation, the people of Warswawa rose up against the Nazis, how the Soviets arrived,and how, instead of helping the Uprising, they stayed on the other side of the Wisla and waited. Ludwik’s mother and grandmother told him these truths in secret. Ludwik was never to share anything of what he learned— The opposite of what he had learned in schoolThe Soviets were not their liberators. They weren’t their allies.Ludwik swore that he would never become one of them, of those who led their mendacious lives in submission to the system. So Ludwik sat through school and endured the lies he was taught carrying Beniek’s banishmentinside him- bile collecting in the pit of his gut! Ludwik and Janusz become close — they bond over the illicit book “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin, (Ludwick’s most important profound & personal book). The also enjoyed the outdoor fresh air, nature, camping, swimming, and each other. “You were there, and I was there, close, breathing. And I moved into your circle. All the way to the waiting body and your calm, open face and the drops on your lips. Your arms closed around me. Hard. And then we were one single body floating in the lake, weightless, never touching the ground”. “The water’s surface glistened in the afternoon light, a deep calm blue. There was not a soul around. We walked to the edge and let our bags drop to the ground, looking across the lake, gleaming like a mirror hit by midday sun. The forest was all around us, and we were in its center, protected and soothed by this glittering eye”. Ludwick had a professor who supported him. Professor Mielewicz praised a paper he wrote on Baldwin’s analysis of racism in America. He said he’d be the first in his country to examine it. “It made me think that throughout my life, at this point, everything I’ve done had felt either irrelevant or replaceable. Here, for the first time, was something that was wholly mine, something that needed me in order to exist”. The book covers historical background about Ludwik’s mother and Granny — about Ludwik’s university years —about postwar politics — and at the heart of this story is a coming-of-age tale about when ‘freedom-of-love’ wasn’t safe. Very moving - a quick read - tender - gracious & heartrending. Thank You Harpercollins for this advance copy. This book will be released in stores in April, 2020.
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    ★★★★✰ 4 starsIts best to start with the beginningor at least what feels like it. I realise now that we never much talked about our pasts. Maybe it would changed something if we had, maybe we would have understood each other better and everything would have been different. Who can say?Swimming in the Dark is a strikingly elegiac novel. The story, in its broadest terms, explores a young mans identity and sexuality under Communist Poland.In December 13th 1981 martial law is declared in the ★★★★✰ 4 stars“It’s best to start with the beginning—or at least what feels like it. I realise now that we never much talked about our pasts. Maybe it would changed something if we had, maybe we would have understood each other better and everything would have been different. Who can say?”Swimming in the Dark is a strikingly elegiac novel. The story, in its broadest terms, explores a young man’s identity and sexuality under Communist Poland.In December 13th 1981 martial law is declared in the Socialist Republic of Poland. Ludwik Glowacki, a young Polish man, now living in America, hears this on the news. This Western 'acknowledgment' of his home country’s political unrest triggers a recollection of his past. Rather than reiterating his whole childhood, Ludwik lingers on some of his more meaningful experiences: starting at age nine, when he became infatuated with a Jewish boy, to his longer-lasting relationship to Janusz, a young man he meets while working on an agricultural camp. Throughout the narrative Ludwik addresses Janusz in the second-person (which will probably elicit comparisons to Call Me By Your Name), giving his reminisce the impression of being an unwritten letter of sorts:“You listened, really listened, gentle eyes taking me in without judgment, making me feel more heard than I knew I could be.”But this is only partly a love story. Ludwik’s examination of his time in Poland will make you feel uneasy. We read of Ludwik’s early struggle to reconcile himself with his sexuality, of his self-discovery (aided by a copy of Giovanni’s Room), of his attempts to create a future in a growingly alienating society, and of the way Poland's tumultuous political and economical landscape affect him and those around him.“To my own surprise, I was unable to accept the shame he wanted me to feel. It was too familiar to be imposed: I had produced it myself for such a long time that, right then, I found I had no space left for it any more.”Ludwik's daily life is permeated by an undercurrent of fear one that forces him into secrecy. Yet as Ludwik struggles to maintain his identity in an increasingly watchful city, he finds himself not only holding but voicing dissident opinions. Because of this, his relationship with Janusz, who is much more complacent, becomes strained.“Selfish. Growing into yourself is nothing but that.”Jedrowski's writing is by turns allusive and explicit. Ludwik's intimate narration is one that might make readers feel almost uncomfortable, as if were encroaching upon his privacy. Yet, this intimacy also allows us to experience some of Ludwik's emotions, to understand the depth of his feelings for Janusz, his apprehension and guilt for having moved away from his grandmother, his growing sense of dislocation.“I even attempt a smile. But I sense that either way my foreignness somehow absolves me from their judgment. To them, it must explain my strangeness completely.”Jedrowski renders in an almost painful clarity what it means to live in a country in turmoil, a country whose government and (collapsing) economy worsen its citizens quality of life.Against this bleak backdrop, Jedrowski's prose seems almost startlingly luminous. He emphasises the more striking nuances of the English language, and his word choices perfectly lend themselves to conveying the beauty and anguish in Ludwik's life.“I was transported into a vision of my life that made me so dizzy my head began to spin. Shame, heavy and alive, had materialised, built from buried fears and desires.” Jedrowski's writing also showcases a propensity for metaphors: “‘Perverts’ — the word falling from her lips like a two-limbed snake, dangerous and exciting”. At times these metaphors could be beautiful, often bringing certain moments or images from Ludwik's memory into the foreground, so that certain scenes are rendered in almost snapshot clarity. In other instances these seemed to accentuate Ludwik's impression or feelings towards someone or something.“My life was a tiny narrow corridor with no doors leading of it, a tunnel so narrow it bruised my elbows, with only one way to go. That or the void, I told myself. That or leave.”Certain metaphors however stood out for the wrong reason, seeming over-written, silly, a bit too impressionistic, and made me wonder whether Jedrowski had an aversion for calling things what they are (for instance: “Tears started to slide down my cheeks like melted butter” / “Warm cave of his mouth” / “your ass was powerful, like two great smooth rocks sculpted by the sea” / “breasts like overripe fruit”).Still, Jedrowski is a clearly skilled writer. The imagery he creates make his narrative into an almost sensory experience. His prose is acutely lyrical, and there were many instance in which I became lost in his language, in his rich, if occasionally high-flow, expression, and in his arresting juxtapositions.Jedrowski's flair for metaphors brought to mind authors such as André Aciman and Ocean Vuong, while the ambivalent tone that shapes much of Ludwik's retrospective narrative reminded me of L'Arminuta and Lie With Me. In spite of his novel's tragic undertones, Jedrowski's prose remains luminous, and there are some rare moments of true beauty in Ludwik's deeply personal tale. Still, a sense of disquiet seemed ever present. Perhaps Ludwik's hindsight distorts some of his memory, turning blissfully happy moments into bittersweet memories.“One day your country is yours, and the next it isn’t.”Living in a country that through its laws and policies imposed uniformity on its subjects, Ludwik not only does he hold onto his individuality but he tries to overcome the shame and guilt that seem irrevocably ingrained in him. Ludwik's psychological turmoil is temporarily alleviated after he comes across an illicit copy of Giovanni's Room. He begins to draw parallels between himself and its protagonist, and soon he fears that he too will behave in a cowardly way. I too became increasingly afraid for him, especially as he is repeatedly forced into morally distressing situations. Yet, to go against the tide is no easy feat, and there were many challenging occasions where Ludwik has to fight not to stray from his values.“But like stones thrown into the sky with all one’s might, pieces of that night - the boys and the men who wanted them, the flirtation, the codes of seduction I could only guess at - returned to me with even greater intensity than I had lived. The law of gravity applies to memories too.”Ludwik's relationship to Janusz is rendered with poignancy. There are moments of vulnerability, of frailty, of emotional and physical abandon, of weariness, and of grief. Due to the secret nature of their relationship Ludwik seems to be perpetually longing for Janusz. However, Ludwik's anxiety for his/their future, Janusz's job and acquaintances, and their contrasting political views, create conflict between them.“I wondered about your role in all this, what kind of pact you’ve made with yourself. Because we all make one, even the best of us. And it’s rarely immaculate. No matter how hard we try.”This novel is a deeply intratextual work. James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room appears throughout the narrative, at times it alleviates Ludwik's despair, in other occasions it appears to him almost as a cautionary tale. Baldwin’s novel allows him to read from a perspective he can understand.“I was paralysed by possibility, caught between the vertigo of fulfillment and the abyss of uncertainty.”In navigating his past Ludwik demonstrates incredible self-awareness. He acknowledges early on that his recollection of his past is imperfect and possibly biased. Retrospective blurs his memories. Yet, its is his present knowledge that allows him to 'dig' deeper, to discern his own motivations and feelings as well as those of others. In fact, as Ludwik ruminates his way through his past, he seems also to be trying to understand or question some of his choices.“How does one bond with another child, as a child? Maybe it’s simply through common interest. Or maybe it’s something that lies deeper, for which everything you say and do is an unwitting code. ”Swimming in the Dark presents its readers with an examination of a young love that is filled with passion, misery, contrition, and jealousy. Simultaneously graceful and unrestrained, this novel is brimming with sensitive and penetrating observations about youth, love (of being gay in a society that deems same-sex love unacceptable), family, and freedom. Written in a fluid prose Swimming in the Dark tells a moving story one that struck me for its piercing realism, for its painful subject matter, and for its believable and compelling characters. “It sounded like an appeal, a right violated and invoked. My hand on the door handle, my back to you, heart pulsing in my temples. I could sense the word throbbing in the air. My name, claiming me. It wrapped its fingers around my shoulders and tried to hold me back.”Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
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  • anna (½ of readsrainbow)
    January 1, 1970
    i'm a polish gay and i deserve to read this novel abt historical polish gays as soon as possible, thanks for agreeing @ edelweiss
  • Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
    January 1, 1970
    (the rating and the review will be finalized after two hours)💌 Some memorable lines (in order of appearance):📌 "It was the sort of early summer that erases any memory of other seasons, one where light and warmth clasp and feed you to the absolute."📌 "This is how I lived back then - through books. I locked myself into their stories, dreamt of their characters at night, pretended to be them. They were my armour against the hard edges of reality."📌 "The law of gravity applies to memories too."📌 (the rating and the review will be finalized after two hours)💌 Some memorable lines (in order of appearance):📌 "It was the sort of early summer that erases any memory of other seasons, one where light and warmth clasp and feed you to the absolute."📌 "This is how I lived back then - through books. I locked myself into their stories, dreamt of their characters at night, pretended to be them. They were my armour against the hard edges of reality."📌 "The law of gravity applies to memories too."📌 "With the inexplicable logic of dreams, I was certain that I was alone in this world, the last member of a forsaken race."📌 "I avoided you, so that you couldn't avoid me. I didn't want to be in the field of your power. I envied your lightness and the beauty you carried it with such ease."📌 "Work had seemed like the beginning of the end, university a prolonging of youth."📌 "I allowed the union between the earth and my body, I let go, and for the first time in my life I appreciated everything for what it was, observed the miracle of it. The earth for being the earth, my hands for being my hands, the plants for growing out of seeds, and the others around me, everyone, with their own rights and dreams and interior worlds."📌 "This wasn't a distraction or entertainment: here was a book that seemed to have been written for me, which lifted me up into its realm and united me with something that seemed to have been there all along and that I seemed to be a part of it.""It felt as if the words and the thoughts of the narrator - despite their agony, despite their pain - healed some of my agony and my pain, simply by existing."📌 "
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    Swimming in the Dark is Tomasz Jedrowski's debut novel, but this elegantly written queer historical fiction novel is so profound that you'd never know it. Set in Post-World War 2 Poland, the central character Ludwik is navigating life through communism while battling his own demons. As Ludwik develops his distain for Poland's communist restrictions, he also comes to terms with his sexuality. The novel is written as an epic love letter or story to one of the most important people in his life, a Swimming in the Dark is Tomasz Jedrowski's debut novel, but this elegantly written queer historical fiction novel is so profound that you'd never know it. Set in Post-World War 2 Poland, the central character Ludwik is navigating life through communism while battling his own demons. As Ludwik develops his distain for Poland's communist restrictions, he also comes to terms with his sexuality. The novel is written as an epic love letter or story to one of the most important people in his life, a man he met through a summer camp—Janusz. Janusz and Ludwik develop strong feelings and a love that neither expected, but it has to be contained as Poland's strict Catholic and homophobic policies could destroy them. As the two forge a relationship, they also venture out on their careers. Ludwik tries to become a professor while Janusz joins the political game. They are on opposite sides of the political spectrum and their differences become a struggle that the two must come to terms with. A story about love and loss, Swimming in the Dark is a beautifully written story that gripped me from the prologue through the ending. I read this book in one sitting because it's definitely a fast read. When it comes to content, it's refreshingly lighter than I expected—I think I've become burnt-out over demoralizing and over-sensationalized LGBTQ+ dramas. Tomasz Jedrowski, I can't wait for everyone to fall in love with Swimming in the Dark .
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  • Erik
    January 1, 1970
    "Swimming in the Dark" is Tomasz Jedrowski's debut novel, and from the turn of the first page this story of young love, lost love, and dystopian realities will have you hooked.Following Ludzio as he falls in love with Janusz all while confronting the ghosts of the USSR in 1980s Poland, this story shows life for gay people behind the iron curtain. This novel, though, is far more than just a love story; it's a story about the ways in which our politics and our position in society can shape, and "Swimming in the Dark" is Tomasz Jedrowski's debut novel, and from the turn of the first page this story of young love, lost love, and dystopian realities will have you hooked.Following Ludzio as he falls in love with Janusz all while confronting the ghosts of the USSR in 1980s Poland, this story shows life for gay people behind the iron curtain. This novel, though, is far more than just a love story; it's a story about the ways in which our politics and our position in society can shape, and dismantle, our relationships with those people we hold the most dear. Torn between a state that offers him no love and a lover who begs him to say, in the end Ludzio's journey takes him to a point of no return, but one that ultimately allows him to fully come into himself.This book, out in April, had depth of plot, complexity of character, and a story that will resonate with you for days. Don't sleep on this book. Read it.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    An elegiac love story filled with melancholy and longing as the narrator struggles with sexual identity against the repressive background of Poland under Soviet rule. The writing flows easily but is spoilt at times through overwriting, especially in the figurative language and forced similes and metaphors. The details of everyday life in Poland are involving and I like that there's no miraculous ending. An intimate book with an emotive aura, simple but striking: 3.5 starsARC from NetGalley
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  • Doug
    January 1, 1970
    4.5, rounded up.While I can see why the names Aciman, Greenwell and Hollinghurst are invoked in the synopsis, to me the more relevant antecedent would be Kundera, and this read to me as nothing less than a gay Polish The Unbearable Lightness of Being. For a debut novel, Jedrowski has a firm hold on his material, and though there are a few passages that are a bit overly flowery, or oppositely, seem stilted (I had to look to see if this was indeed translated into English early on), for the most 4.5, rounded up.While I can see why the names Aciman, Greenwell and Hollinghurst are invoked in the synopsis, to me the more relevant antecedent would be Kundera, and this read to me as nothing less than a gay Polish The Unbearable Lightness of Being. For a debut novel, Jedrowski has a firm hold on his material, and though there are a few passages that are a bit overly flowery, or oppositely, seem stilted (I had to look to see if this was indeed translated into English early on), for the most part the plight of Ludwik and Janusz is rendered in a fluid and impactful manner. I'll admit to tearing up during the last few pages, and being able to fly through it in less than a day makes me unhesitatingly recommend it to all and sundry.An interesting article by the author on the book's origins: https://lithub.com/on-writing-the-sto...
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    I think I've said it before but there is a great opportunity now to be able to give gay men's lives some historical context in novels. This one is set in 1980 in communist Poland, around the time that the workers were first beginning to protest, and when being gay was mostly not accepted in society, and certainly an opportunity for blackmail by the authorities. The main character, Ludwik, meets Janusz at an agricultural labour camp which all students had to attend after their studies. A I think I've said it before but there is a great opportunity now to be able to give gay men's lives some historical context in novels. This one is set in 1980 in communist Poland, around the time that the workers were first beginning to protest, and when being gay was mostly not accepted in society, and certainly an opportunity for blackmail by the authorities. The main character, Ludwik, meets Janusz at an agricultural labour camp which all students had to attend after their studies. A connection is made and their romance eventually begins. Life becomes more complicated when they leave the countryside, and we are aware from the start that Ludwik is narrating the story from New York. The rural scenes are especially well written, but so is the overall feeling of fear of discovery and what they would need to do to keep their relationship alive. Although I have read a few really enjoyable books this year, this has been my favourite so far.
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  • Grant
    January 1, 1970
    "the odds had been stacked against us from the start: we had no manual, no one to show us the way... Not one example of a happy couple made up of boys... Did we even believe that we deserved to get away with happiness?" Another book to add to the list of books that have made me cry. So it's safe to say that this book ruined me.
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  • Ben Howard
    January 1, 1970
    Told from Ludwik Glowacki's perspective, as if he were writing a letter to Janusz. We follow them as their relationship on at and agricultural camp after their final year at university, and beyond as they begin their adult lives in Warsaw.Having to keep their relationship secret and differing views of how to live under the Party understandably causes both men a considerable amount of strain.The story is told in interweaving timelines; present day (view spoiler)[Ludwik living in New York (hide Told from Ludwik Glowacki's perspective, as if he were writing a letter to Janusz. We follow them as their relationship on at and agricultural camp after their final year at university, and beyond as they begin their adult lives in Warsaw.Having to keep their relationship secret and differing views of how to live under the Party understandably causes both men a considerable amount of strain.The story is told in interweaving timelines; present day (view spoiler)[Ludwik living in New York (hide spoiler)], flashbacks to Ludwik as a child, and the majority of the story following Ludwick and Janusz in Warsaw.Absolutely loved this book! It left me wanting to more, and to re-read it.
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  • Eleanor
    January 1, 1970
    Initially giving the impression of some kind of Aciman/Greenwell love child, Swimming in the Dark doesnt actually dispel that characterization so much as deepen it. Though I havent read Aciman, I dont think hes best known for being tremendously political; Jedrowski, on the other hand, is at least as interested in the effect of state repression on the growth and development of two mens minds as he is in its effect on their romance. Indeed, he makes it clear that the two things are sort of the Initially giving the impression of some kind of Aciman/Greenwell love child, Swimming in the Dark doesn’t actually dispel that characterization so much as deepen it. Though I haven’t read Aciman, I don’t think he’s best known for being tremendously political; Jedrowski, on the other hand, is at least as interested in the effect of state repression on the growth and development of two men’s minds as he is in its effect on their romance. Indeed, he makes it clear that the two things are sort of the same. Ludwik and Janusz meet at a camp for university students, meant to teach intellectuals about the joys of toiling on the land—for this is Poland in the 1980s, half a decade away from Lech Wałeşa and Solidarność. They’re irresistibly drawn to each other, Ludwik with a kind of halting nervousness, Janusz with something more like gracious acceptance, and at the end of the camp, they go on a walking holiday together. They become lovers almost immediately, with a sense of utter naturalness and simplicity. Upon their return to Warsaw, they maintain their relationship, but in secret; in communist Poland, homosexuality is up there with sympathy towards the decadent West as the sort of leaning that can get you into serious trouble. Ludwik, who early in the novel acquires a banned copy of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, is deeply frustrated by this repression. Janusz, by contrast, seems to see it as a necessary evil, the price a gay communist must pay for the satisfactions and rewards of being part of the state. The tension between these mutually exclusive attitudes will eventually render their relationship, and Ludwik’s continued habitation in Poland, impossible: the novel is focalized through his eyes and in retrospect, from the life he leads in New York in the late ’80s, watching news coverage of the revolution in his home country. We are meant, of course, to sympathize more with Ludwik, whose integrity will not be compromised, but Jedrowski is a good enough writer to gesture at the ways in which Janusz may not have made such a bad choice; he has almost certainly survived, his marriage to the fun-loving daughter of a high-ranking Party official both a protection and perhaps a thing enjoyable enough in itself.
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  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    28/2/20Got super lucky and found a copy of this book last week during my book scavenging hunt ! :)You can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
  • Théo M.
    January 1, 1970
    Really boring but a different historical perspective from what we are usually given.I didnt really have any attachment to the main character and therefore didnt care about what happened to him or his story.The beginning started off interesting, but it never really gains traction. And about halfway through there just doesnt seem to be much of a point. Really boring but a different historical perspective from what we are usually given.I didn’t really have any attachment to the main character and therefore didn’t care about what happened to him or his story.The beginning started off interesting, but it never really gains traction. And about halfway through there just doesn’t seem to be much of a point.
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  • Tiarnán McMeekin
    January 1, 1970
    "I realised now that it never mattered. Because you were right when you said that people can't always give us what we want from them; that you can't ask them to love you the way you want. No one can be blamed for that. And the odds had been stacked against us from the start: we had no manual, no one to show us the way. Not one example of a happy couple made up of boys. How were we supposed to know what to do? Did we even believe that we deserved to get away with happiness?"I've been on a bit of "I realised now that it never mattered. Because you were right when you said that people can't always give us what we want from them; that you can't ask them to love you the way you want. No one can be blamed for that. And the odds had been stacked against us from the start: we had no manual, no one to show us the way. Not one example of a happy couple made up of boys. How were we supposed to know what to do? Did we even believe that we deserved to get away with happiness?"I've been on a bit of an LGBTIQ+ fix recently with regards to my book intake, and Swimming in the Dark rose up in the midst of this. It is a beautiful, poignant and delicately written novel that places a homosexual love story in the midst of a diminishing communist regime. The protagonist, Ludwik, strives to maintain his identity and an unwillingness to conform in a society that is entirely at odds with who he is. Indeed, there is indication in the bliss of the Polish mountain and lakeside setting that he might achieve this with Janusz, at least momentarily. The crux of the novel's struggles occur when he returns to Warsaw and is stricken quite immediately by the fact that Janusz holds a conflicting perspective on the situation.Jedrowski's depiction of Janusz is striking in that rather than creating a character who hides from his sexuality and is in adamant denial, he portrays a man who is intent on manipulating the system around him so that he can maintain his relationship with Ludwik whilst at the same time reap the benefits of being tied to Poland's elite. Janusz, who comes from a family of peasants and recognises the benefits of what a communist society provides him with, is intent on utilising the system to carve the life that he desires; he sees that to be wealthy and powerful is to be immune and therefore, in a sense, free. It is this mentality that forges a wedge between himself and Janusz, who, inspired in some regards by the small acts of rebellion demonstrated by his mother and grandmother, cannot succumb to the moral ambiguity that this would entail.Swimming in the Dark is not a book that propagates one society over another; in fact, there is regret and sad reflection in Ludwik's knowledge (affirmed by the words of his aging grandmother) that he can not return to his homeland, and must remain in a new country that, as he states, makes it easy for people to fool themselves and to pretend that they have escaped from their past. Jedrowski conveys the gay experience as something that, in the context of the novel, may have existed before Ludwik and Janusz, but as something that has no map or path which a person can follow. There is some hope in that as Ludwik is writing, this regime is in the midst of collapse. Hope lies also in the acknowledgement that in the future Poland must wake up to its darkness and lies and create a "new workable truth". It is not clear that Ludwik will ever return to experience this, or if Janusz will ever rise to live his own truth, but there is at least some sense of optimism in the protagonist's assertion that rather than bending to his fear of loneliness - of the abyss or the overgrown gravestones - he will not endure his nightmare. He has made a choice.
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  • Christopher Jones
    January 1, 1970
    For a first novel I thoroughly enjoyed this story and will look forward to seeing what else Tomasz Jedrowski pens ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ For a first novel I thoroughly enjoyed this story and will look forward to seeing what else Tomasz Jedrowski pens ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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  • noah
    January 1, 1970
    i cant wait for this to break my heart i can’t wait for this to break my heart
  • Carlos
    January 1, 1970
    A novel about finding your way through life and accepting courageously the consequences of your own decisions. The story of Ludwik Glowacki, a young man in Poland in the late nineteen seventies who gradually discovers his inner self and realizes he is different from the rest. From his modest upbringing, in a fatherless household, with a working mother and caring grandmother, in the city of Wroclaw, in the western part of the country to his university studies in Warsaw, we follow him as his A novel about finding your way through life and accepting courageously the consequences of your own decisions. The story of Ludwik Glowacki, a young man in Poland in the late nineteen seventies who gradually discovers his inner self and realizes he is different from the rest. From his modest upbringing, in a fatherless household, with a working mother and caring grandmother, in the city of Wroclaw, in the western part of the country to his university studies in Warsaw, we follow him as his sexuality awakens as well as his sense of freedom, in a country where he feels out of place. An exquisitely narrated love story, where descriptions seem to come alive, full of radiant colors and blistering light, in a literary symphony of astonishing beauty. Narrated in first person, in the form of a long text or letter addressed to his beloved and covering his years in the university in Warsaw, with flash backs to his childhood and a present tense in New York City, the book is made up of seven chapters with a Prologue. We didn’t say a thing. We looked at each other, already beyond words. You were there and I was there, close, breathing. And I moved into your circle. All the way to your waiting body and your calm, open face and the drops on your lips. Your arms closed around me. Hard. And then we were one single body floating in the lake, weightless, never touching the ground. A couple of books came to mind as I was reading Swimming in the Dark. First, Marguerite Yourcenar’s glorious early novel Alexis ou le Traité du vain combat / Le Coup de grâce and then, John Boyne's rhapsodic The Heart's Invisible Furies. Both, books that I have read and enjoyed enormously, and both excellent examples of the genre. And yet, it occurs to me now that we can never run with our lies indefinitely. Sooner or later we are forced to confront their darkness. We can choose the when, not the if. And the longer we wait, the more painful and uncertain it will be. Even our country is doing it now – facing its archive of lies, wading through the bog towards some new workable truth. A fantastic debut novel, full of integrity and honesty, by the talented Tomasz Jedrowski.
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  • Jack (That English Guy who Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    A tender and achingly beautiful story of the love between two young men set against the backdrop of communist, 1980s Poland.This book has the power to transport you with clear and evocative descriptions, from the beautiful rural Polish countryside, pitted with pockets of agriculture, to the urban concrete sprawl of communist-dominated Warsaw. In this way, the book is incredibly immersive and sends you back in time to live, page by page, with Ludwig.Jedrowski has a memorable and sweet character A tender and achingly beautiful story of the love between two young men set against the backdrop of communist, 1980s Poland.This book has the power to transport you with clear and evocative descriptions, from the beautiful rural Polish countryside, pitted with pockets of agriculture, to the urban concrete sprawl of communist-dominated Warsaw. In this way, the book is incredibly immersive and sends you back in time to live, page by page, with Ludwig.Jedrowski has a memorable and sweet character in his main protagonist Ludwig; a young man who has always known from a young age that he is gay and is battling with the concept of love, and being in love with Janusz at a time when politics and social progress forbid it. One of the most beautiful aspects of this story; told in the first person from Ludwig's perspective, is the exploration of how the two can love one another and what they must do - or at least feel the must do - in order to live ordinary lives along the Party line."How were we supposed to know what to do? Did we even believe that we deserved to get away with happiness?" Ludwig laments at the novel's emotional climax.Personally, I feel this book triumphs over a number of others that would fall in the same vein - the likes of Call Me By Your Name or Lie With Me - in its portrayal of a fragile and illicit relationship, made more heartbreaking by the forces of the time moving against them and just how fatalistic their love seems. I fell in love with the idea of Ludwig & Janusz, every bit as much as Ludwig does, and everything he feels you feel too. And that, for me, is master-storytelling.
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  • Aaron Yates
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book a bit frustrating. There was an opportunity to tell a different kind of story here and it almost gets there, but in the end it barely skims the surface of Polands political history and instead becomes another gay coming of age story that didnt really have anything new to say. I found this book a bit frustrating. There was an opportunity to tell a different kind of story here and it almost gets there, but in the end it barely skims the surface of Poland’s political history and instead becomes another gay coming of age story that didn’t really have anything new to say.
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  • GabrielP (Deleboy)
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.Swimming in the Dark is the debut novel of Tomasz Jedrowski, the coming-of-age story of Ludwik Glowacki, who personally narrates the recollection of his story with Janusz, alternating it with bits of his childhood in the years of Soviet dominance and communist rule imposed after the end of World War II.You were right when you said that people can't always give us what we want from them.It's a good book. The author ARC provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.Swimming in the Dark is the debut novel of Tomasz Jedrowski, the coming-of-age story of Ludwik Glowacki, who personally narrates the recollection of his story with Janusz, alternating it with bits of his childhood in the years of Soviet dominance and communist rule imposed after the end of World War II.You were right when you said that people can't always give us what we want from them.It's a good book. The author crafted a sorrowful atmosphere that completely engulf the reader. The gloom dominated the novel, but even though it was melancholic, I couldn't stop reading, because the author accomplished to capture my curiosity and forced me to read Ludwik's and Janusz's story to the dire end.
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  • Dickon Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tender gay romance / historical drama set in Poland in the early 1980s. All very pretty and touching and sad, but it loses a star for the scene in which Blondie is referred to as the name of the singer (ie Debbie Harry), not the band. No excuse for that, not even under communism.
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  • Sai Ram (ZanyAnomaly)
    January 1, 1970
    "I would push these thoughts away, deep down into the recesses of my mind. And yet, I'd wake with the same images stuck in my head, like flies caught on a strip of glue. Years of yearning compressed like a muscle, pulsating mercilessly. I felt like a gas flame left burning on the stove for no reason."Tomasz Jedrowski had mainly one thing in mind when he wrote Swimming In The Dark: GAY. YEARNING. And oh boy, was there a lot of gay yearning. I'm surprised Call Me By Your Name fans aren't eating "I would push these thoughts away, deep down into the recesses of my mind. And yet, I'd wake with the same images stuck in my head, like flies caught on a strip of glue. Years of yearning compressed like a muscle, pulsating mercilessly. I felt like a gas flame left burning on the stove for no reason."Tomasz Jedrowski had mainly one thing in mind when he wrote Swimming In The Dark: GAY. YEARNING. And oh boy, was there a lot of gay yearning. I'm surprised Call Me By Your Name fans aren't eating this book up, cause this has all the elements of Elio's longings and innocence, coupled in with beautifully written prose - No, really, this is the first time I understand what 'tender prose' means - cause my queer heart just could NOT handle the yearning.What's this story about?This is about Ludwik, who is growing up in Poland in the rocky political climate of 1980s Poland. It is about him discovering his sexuality and his love story with one of the men he meets in a Summer camp - Janusz. But it's also a political commentary on communist Poland and how it affected people around him. As another reviewer mentioned, it is "the story of Ludwik's yearning for freedom from communism and for sexual liberation.The book in the format of a letter that he writes to Janusz, whom he hasn't spoken to for a year after having left to America. He starts with his younger years, of him realizing he had feelings for his best friend Benniek - and the political commentary starts from there because Benniek is Jewish and we vaguely see the complication it brings to his friendship with Ludwik.Fast forward a couple of years and Ludwik is an adolescent and meets and falls in love with Janusz, who both bond over their love for Giovanni's Room. They have to keep their affair a secret while they work under the communist regime and we also see conflict between them since Janusz might be pro-government while Ludwik sees how their government is making people around him suffer.The only other book I've read on communism is Animal Farm, and I observed the real ways it affected the people in Ludwik's life and it felt intense while also not jarringly removing us from the flow of the story.This book was such a short, quick read - but I found myself disoriented when I finished it cause I did not want for it to end. And if that's not an indicator for a good book, I don't know what is.Thanks to Bloomsbury India for the ARCYou can find me onInstagram | Twitter | Youtube | TikTok
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  • Ilya
    January 1, 1970
    I raced through this. It's spare and lyrical (warning bells...) but wise and deceptively well-plotted (yay!) A lesser talent would have made a hash of the story: forbidden love, set against the backdrop of a rigid, decaying, and corrupt society. Jedrowski pulls it off. At this risk of sounding trite, let me observe that it really would make a great Pawlikowski film.
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  • Karim Boustani
    January 1, 1970
    This book exceeded all of my expectations. A story of forbidden love, Jedrowski describes the life of a gay man living in Poland in the 70s-80s who falls in love with another man he meets at a summer camp. We follow the journey of a man who struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and who uses James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" as an aid. The author does an excellent job of describing the struggles during the communist era in Poland. The harsh realities of the political landscape are This book exceeded all of my expectations. A story of forbidden love, Jedrowski describes the life of a gay man living in Poland in the 70s-80s who falls in love with another man he meets at a summer camp. We follow the journey of a man who struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and who uses James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" as an aid. The author does an excellent job of describing the struggles during the communist era in Poland. The harsh realities of the political landscape are illustrated by Ludwik's yearning for freedom from both communism as well as sexual liberation. The character development was excellent and there were moments of suspense that kept me glued to the book. As a Pole, I thought the attention to detail when describing various aspects of Warsaw and Polish culture was really good. At times I felt that there was slightly too much descriptive language which made it slightly hard to read. Some of the metaphors used were unnecessary and perhaps slightly excessive. I also found the ending to be slightly disappointing and lazy given how quickly the storyline moved throughout the book - it would have been nice to end on a high.Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Montana
    January 1, 1970
    Swimming in the Dark is a very beautifully-written elegy of a novel that impressively takes on a fair amount of weighty themes despite being rather slim in size. This book could have easily been two, three times its length, but I feel that that is one of its strengths; what it is able to accomplish in such few pages.This book, like another reviewer here on Goodreads, really exceeded my expectations. I've seen a few comparisons to Call Me by Your Name on the internet, and while there are Swimming in the Dark is a very beautifully-written elegy of a novel that impressively takes on a fair amount of weighty themes despite being rather slim in size. This book could have easily been two, three times its length, but I feel that that is one of its strengths; what it is able to accomplish in such few pages.This book, like another reviewer here on Goodreads, really exceeded my expectations. I've seen a few comparisons to Call Me by Your Name on the internet, and while there are certainly some tonal similarities between the two, I really admired the very broad scope of issues that Swimming in the Dark takes on, as I mentioned.Beyond the very beautiful and tender (view spoiler)[but doomed (hide spoiler)] love story and journey of self-discovery, there are a lot of other thoughtfully-explored themes at play here, among them love in the form of friendship and family, loyalty (to others, to oneself, to one's country, government), what it is like to live under an oppressive political regime, the arbitrariness of privilege, and of course, freedom (from what, what it is, and can it ever really be obtained?)I was very lucky to receive an advance copy of this book, and with it came an essay written by Tomasz Jedrowski about his inspirations for writing this novel that are in part based within his own life and experiences. Truthfully, I did not know a great deal about Poland or the political climate there in the last few decades prior to reading this book and was surprised by a lot of what I read, this book being set in a time that feels not so distant from our own. I liked what Jedrowski said in the closing of his essay:As that peculiar mid-point between Berlin and Moscow, Polish society finds itself torn between tolerance and traditional values. But this conflict also mirrors a global phenomenon, one that spares next to no country. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to draw strength and solace from the stories of others, and to share our own.(view spoiler)[Lastly, I appreciated the title Swimming in the Dark alluding to a prominent scene in the novel, but also as a metaphor for the idea that Ludwik and Janusz had no blueprint or example to base their relationship of off; that they were, in a sense, swimming in the dark as they went along. (hide spoiler)]In short, this was definitely a strong start to 2020, and is certainly a novel that I will continue to think back on throughout the rest of the year.4.5/5 stars
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  • thebookiv
    January 1, 1970
    Intimate, elegantly written, melancholic and my heart is definitely clenching uncomfortably, letting me know that I'm both sad and mad AF. Smooth, buttery prose reels you in, and then the story unfolds and it makes you feel feelings that do not dissipate after the book is done. I'm thinking about Janusz and Ludwik and about the choices they'd made. I'm thinking about politics and scarcity and I'm thinking about the way these characters love. I really enjoyed the cadence of this read, and I think Intimate, elegantly written, melancholic and my heart is definitely clenching uncomfortably, letting me know that I'm both sad and mad AF. Smooth, buttery prose reels you in, and then the story unfolds and it makes you feel feelings that do not dissipate after the book is done. I'm thinking about Janusz and Ludwik and about the choices they'd made. I'm thinking about politics and scarcity and I'm thinking about the way these characters love. I really enjoyed the cadence of this read, and I think Jedrowski did a great job offering real world glimpses into the way citizens were affected by the volatility of Poland's political climate at that time. This was well written and lyrical and it kept me clinging to the wtfs of J and L. But I'm sad and angry now and I definitely don't like that, but I am happy to have discovered this author, though I'm still feeling scrunchy in the chest, so that might change. Truthfully, this gay-love melancholy has been prevalent in much of the literature I have been reading lately, and my romantic heart can't take this gut wrenching for much longer. I honestly wish for a beautiful literary read where the two male protagonists find each other throughout tragedy and despair and power through devastating challenges together, whereby proving to the reader that there is a way for love to conquer all. That the possibility exists despite the odds, and that it is reasonable to hope for the best. I'm really mad that this beautiful human, who wanted people to be free, to love whomever they chose, to be able to eat and to have access to healthcare, especially in an emergency, who had the courage to ask for love to accompany him on this journey of escape, had his story end in such a way. Like a cloudy, milky film obscuring the lens of positive new beginnings. It's almost not worth it, though I am perseverating on everything leading up to the ending, so in a good way any novel that compels radical thought and emotion is one that works.Jedrowski is very talented so I am looking forward to what he has in store for us in the future.Good debut regardless.Thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sophie Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Grew fairly emotionally connected to the main character (Ludwik) and enjoyed reading his extended 'love letter'. For this to be more well rounded, there needed to be some more fleshing out of the political context so that Ludwik's actions and motivations could be better understood. That would have grounded the book further and allowed the queer romance to be appreciated more.Would definitely recommend for people looking for a short, historical, coming of age story.
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