Swimming in the Dark

Swimming in the Dark Review

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.

Title:Swimming in the Dark
Edition Language:English

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    Swimming in the Dark Reviews

  • Kai

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

  • Will Byrnes

    …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 i...

  • Larry H

    4.5 stars, rounded up. Swimming in the Dark is a gorgeous story about love, longing, sacrifice, and secrets.Ludwik and Janusz first meet at a Polish summer work camp in the early 1980s. Ludwik is m...

  • Elyse  Walters

    “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 countr...

  • Anna Luce

    ★★★★✰ 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,...

  • Nataliya

    “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.” This book sp...

  • anna ( of readsrainbow)

    i'm a polish gay and i deserve to read this novel abt historical polish gays as soon as possible, thanks for agreeing @ edelweiss...

  • Frank Phillips

    This was such a short book that packed such an amazing punch!! This was queer historical fiction at its finest, I'm absolutely gutted! As heartbreaking as this book was to read, I found myself wanting...

  • Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    (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...

  • Dennis

    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 centr...