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Swimming in the Dark: A Novel por Tomasz…
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Swimming in the Dark: A Novel (original 2020; edição 2020)

por Tomasz Jedrowski (Autor)

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21310100,094 (4.03)9
Membro:amandanan
Título:Swimming in the Dark: A Novel
Autores:Tomasz Jedrowski (Autor)
Informação:William Morrow (2020), 208 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:to-read

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Swimming in the Dark por Tomasz Jedrowski (2020)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 10 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
A coming out novel set in the Poland just prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Matter of fact, this is a story of a love broken up by a conservative set of societal norms. Remorseless in its vivid portrayal of a time and a place, it could have buried itself in cheap sentiment. But like the novel that plays such a pivotal role in the book (Baldwin’s _Giovanni’s Room_), Jederowski’s novel focuses on the social alienation of the narrator and his central dilemma: Can he be happy lying about his sexuality and his love?

Spoiler Quote:
“…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.” ( )
  dbsovereign | Sep 26, 2021 |
Ludwik, the narrator of Swimming in the Dark, is writing to a past lover, Janusz, about their time together after meeting in a summer camp. Set in 1980's Poland, the relationship develops amidst the decline of communism, and the two lovers find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide. Even after leaving Poland, Ludwik can't seem to get Janusz off his mind.

“I don’t know whether I ever want you to read this, but I know that I need to write it. Because you've been on my mind for too long. I am done with pretending that I’ve erased you from my mind. Some things cannot be erased through silence. Some people have that power over you, whether you like it or not. I begin to see that now. 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.”

This novel is poetically written. There are so many memorable quotes. Everything was given the amount of words needed to paint the picture as to what was going on and as to what the narrator was feeling at that moment. It was so well written that I would forget it was being written to Janusz. I felt myself becoming one with the story and really feeling for both of the main characters and their situations.

The historical background was also interesting. I've been trying to branch out from only reading historical fiction written in the WWII era. To have a queer book written in what is the aftermath of that era really grabbed me. Thomasz Jedrowski was able to write little pieces of history here and there, even though Ludwik was writing to Janusz and both boys had lived through it. They obviously knew what was going on, but the way it was still included so the reader wasn't completely left in the dark was informative.

Though set in a bit of rough history, it was a refreshingly lighter read written in beautiful prose about love, loss, and growing up and apart that I read in less than twenty-four hours. ( )
  oldandnewbooksmell | Sep 24, 2021 |
For Ludwik, negotiating the discovery of his sexuality in the 1980s, it's not just hesitancy about who to reveal himself to, and the when and how; it's that Poland under the Soviet yoke confers power to those with 'connections' and not only denies the most basic of needs to its ordinary people, but also exploits shame and fear about 'deviancy' to blackmail its informers. As a boy Ludwik had listened to illegal radio broadcasts with his mother and grandmother — without really understanding what they were about except that they were clandestine because they were from the West. It is not until his relationship with Janusz deepens (that name reminding the reader of Janus the two-faced god) that Ludwik becomes aware of the corruption of his society and the abandonment of its socialist ideals. He has a kindly landlady called Pan Kolecka who has fond memories of freedom to travel beyond pre-war Poland and whose sole pleasure now is to bake, but as the economy collapses she has to queue for days in order to get basic foodstuffs. Janusz OTOH has friends with connections who live in luxury, symbolised by expensive German cars, designer clothes from the West, gourmet foodstuffs and the latest in popular music. Ludwik sees a washing machine for the first time in his life and feels a stab of anger for Pan Kolecka who has done her laundry by hand all her life. She tells him that she is queueing for a possibility, queueing for something, maybe queueing for nothing but she has hope that even the longest queue dissolves eventually. Just how unrealistic this is becomes clear when she becomes gravely ill and cannot even get a medical appointment, much less the medications to save her life.

Ludwik dreams of freedom, and with Giovanni's Room as the (clandestine) catalyst, he is hopeful that he can get funding for a doctorate to study the author James Baldwin because the authorities will approve of any critique of American, including racism. Ludwik's dreams and reality collide when he realises that Janusz is willing to compromise all that matters in order to get ahead...

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/07/14/swimming-in-the-dark-by-tomasz-jedrowski/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 13, 2021 |
This is the mid-twenties coming of age story of a young homosexual man in communist Poland who struggles with his passion to live honestly and his love for a contemporary who has a passion to live well. Compactly told without sentimentality or indulgence. ( )
  quondame | Jul 8, 2021 |
Well that was sit-down-and-devour-it-in-a-day good, y'all.

Gorgeous prose follows Ludwik through from his queer awakening in childhood to his first relationship in the final days of communist Poland. This coming of age tale intertwines his experience of romance with his social awakening with such elegance and grace that the two become inseparable from one another as with his personal growth. An immersive and compelling read. Great for lovers of romance and historical fiction alike.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Jun 6, 2021 |
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As to the action which is about to begin, it takes place in Poland--that is to say, nowhere.
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Wszystko mija, nawet najdłuższa żmija.
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