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Home Is Nearby

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  35 reviews
1980: The beginning of the polish crisis. Brought up in a small village, country-girl Ania arrives in the university city of Wroclaw to pursue her career as a sculptor. Here she falls in love with Dominik, an enigmatic write at the center of a group of bohemians and avant-garde artists who throw wild parties. When martial law is declared, their lives change overnight: mili ...more
Paperback, 282 pages
Published 2017 by Impress Books
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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Amalia Gkavea
*As always, any political comments will promptly receive the axe.*

‘’Martial law was for our own good, the government said. They said we all had to make sacrifices. And we would all be safer as a result.’’

One of the few certain things my 32 years on Earth have taught me is that I should never trust someone who says a) that something is for my own good, and b) that everyone has to make sacrifices. Especially when the aforementioned ‘’someone’’ is a man (or a woman) in power. Mainly, politician
Paula Bardell-Hedley
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Paula by: NetGalley.
“I, Anna Izabela Skowron ‘ ska, do hereby confess.”
I recall as a teenager watching grainy TV pictures of Lech Wałęsa, hero of Poland’s labour movement and head of the trade union group Solidarność (Solidarity), publicly addressing striking workers. At the time, the country was one of the least oppressive states in the Soviet Bloc, but things changed in 1981 when martial law was imposed by the authoritarian government and citizens were persecuted in order to crush political opposition.

The no
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
Find all my books reviews, plus author interviews, guest posts and book extracts, on my blog:

13 Reasons Why I Loved Home is Nearby

1) Our narrator, Ania: her relationship with her father, her courage, her determination to be true to herself, her commitment to her art and the gradual awakening of her creativity as she is exposed to the contemporary art scene

‘The tin can sculpture, the cubes, Malgorzata’s photos – these were far from traditional. And yet he
Linda Hill
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Country born Ania is off to start a new life as an art student, but events in Poland mean her life won’t be quite as she expects.

I have a confession. Initially I didn’t like Home is Nearby at all because I picked it up and started it three times, getting interrupted and not getting into the swing of reading it. However, I finally found a stretch of time where I could concentrate and as soon as that happened I was completely drawn in to the narrative and totally absorbed in every element of this
Amanda Stewart
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a really solid debut by a beautiful new literary voice. I became easily immersed in the world of Ania and her friends, and as their respective journeys unfolded I was at turns nervous, delighted, sad, heart-in-mouth, breathless, ... and by the end, satisfied with the story’s ultimate destination. When the Polish Crisis began in earnest I became gripped by the story and had trouble putting it down! Finding time to read with a baby, that’s saying something. Knowing that the author managed ...more
Michael Livingston
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely book about characters caught up in the political turmoil of early 80s Poland and forced to wrestle with their priorities. McGuire writes gorgeously about art and creativity and her characters are well drawn and believable. A good first book of 2018.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it

Visit the locations in the novel

I feel better having read this novel. I’ve taken a peek into a world I’d never considered before and feel both shocked and enlightened. Most of the story, of this romance and fight for freedom takes place in the university of Wroclaw. A place of learning and for freedom of expression, the windows of which we look through and see the changes happening to the Polish people.

The Polish crisis is in the background and never overshadows the story of the fight for freedo
Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)
Originally posted on A Frolic Through Fiction

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book!

So this book was very hit and miss for me, and for once, I can actually pinpoint why (a shock, I know).

Going into this, I expected to learn more about the Polish Crisis, considering it’s mentioned in the blurb. It’s described as if we’d see just how things were affected during this time, and I – not knowing anything at all about it – was very intrigued.

And I did love reading this book just
Anton Allen
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It vividly evokes the romance and squalor of Ania's life as a student and an artist in communist Poland. The importance of love, creativity, and expression when times are hard, and the way we forge a sense of belonging. And above all the power of truth as a force for good in the world - something we can all recognise is important today. ...more
Karen Lee
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was completely captivated by this book from beginning to the end as it transported me to communist Poland. The detail and research was flawless, as was Magdalena's evocative and exquisite writing. She is a master storyteller whose debut novel has given us a rich and deeply engrossing novel about the transformative power of art, the complexity of human relationships in impossible situations and most of all about finding where home is. This book will stay with me for a long time, as will Ania an ...more
Fiona Robertson
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Home is Nearby, the debut novel of Magdalena McGuire, is a book rich with themes of love, loss, home, inspiration, freedom and truth. I closed the final pages with the deep satisfaction that comes at the end of a good book. My heart was full.

This fascinating and emotional story follows the life of Ania, a young woman sculptor living in Poland in the early 1980's. We meet her friends and boyfriend Dominik in Wroclaw, and her beloved father back in her home village. Poland falls under martial law,
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I took this novel with me to WROCŁAW (Poland) as it is mainly set there, and it gave me a wonderful insight and understanding of the city I was visiting today...

You can read more of our visit on this link:

Have you ever considered a city break in Wrocław, formerly Breslau, in Poland? Pop it on your city break list, it has enough to keep you entertained for a long weekend!

Naturally I took a book that is mainly set in the city to read whilst I was there. Ho
Cass Moriarty
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Home is Nearby (Impress Books 2017), by Magdalena McGuire, is an impressive debut novel about belonging, home, art, relationships, culture and family, all set against the social, political and economic Polish crisis of the 1980’s.
Ania leaves her country town for university life in the city of Wroclaw where she hopes to pursue her dream of becoming a sculptor. She falls in with a group of bohemian artists, painters and writers, and together their activities push back against the regime. Ania and
Kali Napier
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's been several hours since I finished Home is Nearby and I haven't been able to start another book! I'm still trying to fill my lungs after being left breathless.
And to give some perspective, I read this way back when it was a manuscript that had just won the Impress Writers Prize. Since then, the ENTIRE last third has been rewritten and some minor subplots in the first two-thirds deleted. But that last section set mainly in Australia is stunning.
The first two-thirds are set in Poland in 1981
Melisabeth Fell
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I know Magdalena's writing more for her short stories and so was intrigued to read a longer piece by her. She didn't disappoint me! I adored this story, the world I was taken to and the characters I walked through it with. I always want to feel assured, like I am in safe hands with a writer, especially with a debut novel, and this is exactly the case.
I enjoyed getting under the skin of the creating it and I loved being reminded of that desperate need to create, to look for the new, push outside
Rubery Book Award
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rubery Prize Shortlisted 2018

This is set in early eighties Poland, and focuses on the life of an art student as she goes to university, trying to establish a career as an artist during a time of government oppression. These are people living in difficult times who are getting on with life as well as they can. It offers an interesting account of the period, and an insight into student/bohemian life behind the iron curtain. The heroine is torn between loyalty to her politics on the one hand, and h
Jessikah Hope
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, 2017
3.5 rounded down to a 3. Full review to follow.
Penny Gibson
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was engrossed in this book from the start. We witness the events of the 'Polish Crisis' of 1981 through the experiences of Ania, an Art student at Wroclaw university, and her friends, and we are drawn into this through the decisions that Ania must make. The historical events are seamlessly woven into the story, which carries us along, through her blossoming romance with Dominick, her concern for her father at home in the village, and her growing understanding of the importance of Art, for hers ...more
Laura Turner
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reads
All my reviews can be found on my blog: https://pageturnersnook.wordpress.

Beginning in 1980 in Wroclaw, Poland, before martial law was introduced, the reader quickly becomes acquainted with Ania, a girl who dreams of one day becoming a sculptor and who becomes that one step closer when she is accepted for a scholarship into university to study art.

In an era when a lot of political and social change is taking place, we follow Ania as she goes against the grain of the country’s crisis and when she
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book has two main threads, which interweave throughout the storyline - art, and Polish history. Both were equally fascinating to me. I found it intriguing to read about the political situation in Poland, life under military control, as well as normal rural life in Poland not so long ago. Alongside this I loved reading about Ania’s sculptures, how she gets her inspiration, and how she finds her own style and ideas.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially to people who ar
Mari LivTollefsonCarlson
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is fitting that Home Is Nearby begins and ends with water. The opening scene of a carp in the bathtub in the Polish city of Wroclaw is pivotal to the narrator, Ania’s, burgeoning artistic vision. At the end of the book, on the beach near Brisbane, Australia, Ania commits to a fluid sense of home. The book ends beautifully illustrate the themes of this debut novel: identity and belonging.
Poland declares martial law in 1980, just as Ania starts art school in Wroclaw. While her widowed father wo
Mar 13, 2019 added it
Recommended to Lisa by: Angela Savage
This book fits into of my favourite categories, 'Art in Fiction' but Home is Nearby is much more than that. Shortlisted for the 2019 NSW Premier's Multicultural Award this novel is an homage to the importance of art in our lives, but it's also a tale of displacement and the journey towards making a new home; and it's a powerful evocation of life in a totalitarian society as well.

This is the blurb:
1980: The beginning of the Polish crisis. Brought up in a small village, country-girl Ania arrives i
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it

Poland in the 1980s saw a great deal of change, both political and social, and for those who lived during that momentous time, life was changed forever. For Ania, living in small village with her father, her hopes of becoming a sculptor are just a dream, until she gets accepted onto an art course at the University of Wroclaw. Once there, Ania comes into contact with a group of young people, and swept along in their ideology, she finds that her life takes a very different turn.

The complex and dif
Julie Twohig
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's the mark of a fabulous book that I read Magdalena McGuire's Home is Nearby in two sittings. Little wonder that in 2016 Magdalena won the UK-based Impress prize with this debut novel; its central themes of home and place and identity and art.

Confession: For the past four years I have been in a writing group with Magdalena and therefore have been privileged to read Magdalena's short stories that have gone on to win major awards. Along the way, I also read excerpts of Home is Nearby, so readin
Harriet Springbett
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in 1980s Poland, during martial law in Poland, this is actually a coming of age story. It's about how a country girl becomes an artist and how, through friends she makes in the political milieu at university, she understands what she wants to do with her life. It's beautifully crafted (the author has won literary competitions) and I enjoyed seeing how the protagonist artist finds inspiration in what's around her and then develops this into art. I was afraid the political side would be heavy, ...more
Kerrin O'Sullivan
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this debut novel with its exquisite sweep of Ania’s journey beginning in 1980’s Poland and set against an adrenalin-charged background of the political and economic upheaval triggered by the declaration of martial law — to evolving across years and oceans to a both true and uplifting resolution. (But you must read the novel…!)
So many threads of intrigue to sustain this compelling story–Ania’s romance with Dominik, a charismatic writer who takes on totalitarianism, Ania’s brilliant artistic
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
I have to admit it took me a while to get into Home Is Nearby. At first, I couldn't relate to the characters at all. Ania moves from the countryside to the big city of Warsaw to study art. Here, she falls in love with a writer, Dominik, and starts hanging out with his bohemian friends. When political events take a turn for the worse and martial law is declared, their life changes forever.

I was really looking forward to read about the Polish crisis of the 1980s, but McGuire never gets into as muc
Kathy Landvogt
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Home Is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire is a beguiling and beautiful story. Once I really entered into Ania’s journey it swept me along with an almost breathless energy: shifting social milieu of characters; new settings that quickly became so distinctive I could smell them; Ania herself see-sawing between seizing agency and drifting into others’ orbits (at least that’s how I saw her). In the midst of this whirlwind of personal and political changes, there was the slower rhythm of art-making. Maguir ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
A nice story but I think I expected too much from this book. I was captivated at the beginning but then began to lose interest. For someone who knows little about Poland, I was expecting to learn more about the Polish Crisis of 1980. I have second generation Polish friends whose parents suffered greatly during the crisis, but the book made the events of 1980 seem minuscule, even though they weren't. I got a glance of what life was like in Poland but unfortunately not the whole picture. Despite t ...more
Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books
A passionate and relatively engaging debut set around the introduction of martial law in Poland. With a courageous female protagonist who is very well brought to life, a discussion of at the economic and political situation in Poland in the early 1980s and how it affects the people, and an interesting look at the inspiration behind art, I enjoyed reading Home Is Nearby.

I found the dialogue to be a bit inconsistent at times and I couldn't get on board with some of the romantic relationships that
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Magdalena McGuire was born in Poland, grew up in Darwin, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband and son. Her short fiction has been published by The Big Issue, Margaret River Press, The Bristol Prize anthology and elsewhere. In 2016 she won the Impress Prize for New Writers. In 2017 she won Mslexia's Short Fiction Competition, judged by Deborah Levy. Home Is Nearby is her debut novel. ...more

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