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review Swimming in the Dark

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 HollinghurstWhen 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 fulf 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 painful and uncertain it will be This is a stunning work of surpassing beautyTomasz 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 offenseLudwik living in New York City looks back at a life that is still young remembers his first crush on an older 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 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 unavoidableA 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 freedom to do as they please than the rest of society But this reuires 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 uestions 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 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 eual 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 awaySwimming 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 PeaceTomasz 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 exuisite 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 2020EXTRA STUFFI did not turn up any digital links for the author If you are aware of any please send them alongInterviews 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 Czes aw Mi osz Nobel Prize winning Polish poet Wis awa Szymborska Nobel Prize winning Polish poet and essayist Ryszard Kapu ci ski Polish journalist photographer poet and author Solidarno aka Solidarity the Polish Labor union that played a central role in ending Communist rule uo 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

review Õ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free Ó Tomasz Jedrowski

Illed 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 unthinkableOnce they return to Warsaw the charismatic Janusz uickly 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 r Swimming in the Dark is Tomasz Jedrowski s debut novel Set in early 1980s Poland amidst the decline of communism it tells the story of the relationship that develops between Ludwik and Janusz two students who meet and then develop a relationship at a summer camp only to find themselves on two opposites sides of the political divide 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 Like I ve said before there s a certain beauty to retrospective storytelling and Jedrowski really uses that to his advantage to introduce the story but also to intersperse the whole narrative with a kind of nostalgia and a certain kind of sadness because you know when you start reading the book that the relationship between these two characters doesn t end well yet you can t help but root for them anyway This book is told through Ludwik s perspective but the narrative is told like Ludwik is writing a letter or addressing his former lover telling his side of the story The novel explores the relationship that develops between these two men but also explores homosexuality and identity the intensity of first love but also the pains of growing up and growing further apart from one another And I think every single thing in this book was executed perfectly The narrative voice the progression of the plot the writing itself the characters and their interactions with one another the themes that are explored and discussed the political aspects of the novel everything was done really well and all tied together to create what is definitely a memorable and remarkable novel and one that I find I m still thinking about We hadn t really talked about us or what it would be like back in the city or anything else There was no us Of course I had thought about it had wanted to ask What is this What are we going to do with it when we get back I remember I only dared ask on the last night as we lay in the dark of the tent about to fall asleep after having made love I asked the uestion into the dark afraid You didn t say anything for an interminable moment and I thought you had fallen asleep Finally you whispered I don t want this to end My heart beating hard knocking against the wall of my chest I replied Me neither The main aspect this novel explores that really made me fall in love with is the interactions between the two main characters Ludwik and Janusz and the development and then eventual deterioration of their relationship But it comes across so naturally When the two boys meet the development of their relationship is slow and natural They bond over the banned book Giovanni s Room they swim together and then they grow closer but you get a sense that these two can t stay together forever because the outside world is going to get in between them And there s always reality lingering in the background of everything especially when you take into account the time period this novel is set in and what was happening in the country at the time But the deterioration of their relationship was portrayed really well Ludwik finds himself on one side of the political divide harbouring thoughts and feelings that Janusz doesn t agree with But they remain together despite this fact but it s always something that hangs between them that they both believe in different things and view their country and government in opposing ways But I still understood both perspectives and as the novel is told from Ludwik s perspective I didn t hate Janusz when he was disagreeing with Ludwik I understood why he thought the way he did And when you take into account the fact that these boys are moving in completely different directions the ending seems inevitable Yet I was still hanging on hoping things could work out I approached until I could see the drops of water on your forehead and on the tip of your nose and in the corners of your mouth 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 The character development that Ludwik undergoes is moving and emotional and a testament to Jedrowski s masterful storytelling There s no way this can be a debut novel because the author weaves together the plot and characters like he s being doing this his whole life When we first meet Ludwik he s a character who has a lot of self doubt and is coming to terms with what his identity as a gay man means for his life The story is broken up into two parts Ludwik in the present and then him recounting what brought him to where he is in the opening of the novel And the journey that this character goes through in his relationship with Janusz but also in his relationship with himself is so moving and profound The scene that touched me the most was when Ludwik came out and admitted for the first time in the whole book to another person that he was gay And that scene made me cry so much because it was so well done and there were so many emotions running throughout it all But also because it was a long time coming and that felt like the perfect moment 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 have 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 There s clearly a new genre that I like and I m going to call it sad gay books and this is definitely one of them Like I mentioned earlier there was a certain kind of nostalgia woven throughout the story because you know from the beginning that these characters don t end up together but I still kind of hoped for a good outcome anyway But the ending really made me emotional in a way where I was sad that Janusz and Ludwik didn t end up happy together but I was also proud of Ludwik for how far he had come and where he found himself at the end of the book I mean in the process of saving himself and getting out of the country to America he still protected Janusz to the very end ensuring that he could have a happy life and that nobody would know about their relationship That to me spoke wonders about his character that he was still thinking about protecting the man he loves even though his heart was broken He was a character that reminded me of myself and that I just couldn t help but root for throughout This really was a beautiful story about love identity and sacrifice and how sometimes your differences can mean that you grow apart from someone you love over time But it was a beautiful story and it really touched me I m glad this happened I said enjoying the sound of my voice and its gentle vibration in my body Me too You turned your head towards me your eyes bright I knew it would happen since the beginning you said smiling Overall Swimming in the Dark is a novel that I know I will be thinking about again and again because it touched me in ways that I find hard to describe It s books like this that remind me why I love reading so much because this barely 200 page story really resonated with me and I ve found that I ve come out on the other side as a better person We walked on through the forest taking in its furtive sounds until we reached our clearing and saw the moon on the surface of the lake We stopped and watched Then without a word we undressed and slipped into the water We swam fearless and free and invisible in the brilliant dark Some of my favourite uotes and interactions from the book I realise now that we never talked much about our pasts Maybe it would have changed something if we had maybe we would have understood each other better and everything would have bene different Who can say Did you ever have someone like that someone that you loved in vain when you were younger Did you ever feel something like my shame I always assumed that you must have that you can t possibly have gone through life as carelessly as you made out But I begin to think that not everyone suffers in the same way that not everyone in fact suffers Not from the same things at any rate And in a way this is what made us possible you and me 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 I carried them with me wherever I went like a talisman in my pocket thinking of them as almost real than the people around me who spoke and lived in denial destined I thought to never do anything worth recounting My greatest terror was ending up alone Yet part of me was sure that s how I would end up and that it was the worst thing that could happen to someone There was something about the way you looked at me that made me feel as if you didn t judge There are only so many people we meet in life who give us that feeling And yet that night as I lay in bed reading after the others had gone to sleep I was scared Scared about the hole I had made by trusting you scared by the vulnerability it had created You shook your head and stared at some distant point on the horizon I should have known you re one of them Them what I said nervous suddenly wondering whether I had made a big mistakeYou turned to me briskly Dreamers you said your mouth widening into a teasing smileI let the word ring out relieved and warm by your smile so close to my face What s wrong with dreaming about freedom I said Freedom you huffed and smiled as if you d had the same conversation many times before Having oranges and banana every month of the year is that freedom to you Your smile was gone There is freedom in having what you want I said carefully in choosing for yourself I don t know how many days we stayed at the lake because each one was like a whole world every moment new and unrepeatable In a way these felt like the first days of my life as if I d been born by that lake and its water and you As if I d shed a skin and left my previous life behind You ve changed she said calmly like a clairvoyant announcing someone s fate Have I I made a grimace Your face She held her hand to it her middle finger resting on my cheekbone It looks like something s opened up something that was folded tight Like a fist I d never noticed before but now I do So we ve suddenly become a secret huh We ve always been a secret Ludwik It s just that until now there was no one to hide from 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 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 I am hungry suddenly as if I haven t eaten in weeks I want borscht and pierogi and warm poppy seed cake and I feel this as a vast cavernous emptiness inside me a yearning for warmth But it isn t painful at all It feels like a promise

Tomasz Jedrowski Ó 5 Free download

Ising 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 collapseShifting from the intoxication of first love to the uiet 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 incarnatio This was such a short book that packed such an amazing punch This was ueer historical fiction at its finest I m absolutely gutted As heartbreaking as this book was to read I found myself wanting thinking 191 pages is not nearly enough I wanted so much of this story I wanted to know what happens with Ludik and Janusz down the road Do their paths cross again Does Ludwik find some form of happiness My goodness I ve never found myself craving so upon finishing a novel This felt like reading a long somber love letter rather than a novel which I suppose was the author s intent It felt utterly realistic especially in the sense that life doesn t always have happy endings or pan out the way we planned sometimes it takes a long time to find contentment or even true happiness The detail was rich throughout the struggles these characters went through were so vivid it felt as if I were going through them myself If only there had been a bit to this plot it would have undoubtedly been 5 stars for me catapulting above Call Me By Your Name probably one of my favorite ueer novels Such an incredible job Jedrowski I cannot wait to read your next publication To think that this is his debut novel I m a true fan


10 thoughts on “Swimming in the Dark

  1. says:

    when the dedication almost makes you cry you know you're in for a good one

  2. says:

    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 painful and uncertain it will be This is a stunning work of surpassing beautyTomasz Jedrowski image from Interview MagazineLudwik Glowaki did not fit in Communist Poland in the 1980s

  3. says:

    45 stars rounded up Swimming in the Dark is a gorgeous story about love longing sacrifice and secretsLudwik and Janusz first meet at a Polish summer work camp in the early 1980s Ludwik is mesmerized by Janusz’s carefree manner his bravado and his handsomeness all of which awaken a longing which frightens him The two connect by chance one

  4. says:

    “Swimming in the Dark” is a debut novel by Tomasz Jedrowski — a graduate from Cambridge University and the Universi

  5. says:

    Swimming in the Dark is Tomasz Jedrowski’s debut novel Set in early 1980s Poland amidst the decline of communism it tells the story of the relationship that develops between Ludwik and Janusz two students who meet and then develop a relationship at a summer camp only to find themselves on two opposites sides of the political divide “I don’t know whether I ever want you to read this but I know that I need to write it Because you've bee

  6. says:

    5 I adored this book than you knewStarsWarning uotes uotes and uotes I walked home slowly The air was suffocating The sky was grey and sticky wind blew through the streets swirling up dust The few people around looked hurried caught inside their own minds even than usual their faces like masks GAAAAAAAHHH I went into this one blind after another convincing review from my friend AnneryThis is the story of LudwikTold in my favourite POV ever

  7. says:

    This was such a short book that packed such an amazing punch This was ueer historical fiction at its finest I'm absolutely gutted As heartbreaking as this book was to read I found myself wanting thinking 191 pages is not nearly enough I wanted so much of this story I wanted to know what happens with Ludik and Janusz down the road Do their paths cross again Does Ludwik find some form of happiness My goodness I've never

  8. says:

    “My life was a tiny narrow corridor with no doors leading off it a tunnel so narrow it bruised my elbows with

  9. says:

    ★★★★✰ 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 e

  10. says:

    45 rounded upWhile I can see why the names Aciman Greenwell and Hollinghurst are invoked in the synopsis to me the 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 f

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