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Swimming in the Dark

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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  315 ratings  ·  99 reviews
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 dividea stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of Andre Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.

When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a
...more
ebook, 208 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2020 by William Morrow
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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
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Kai
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, queer
when the dedication almost makes you cry, you know you're in for a good one
Elyse  Walters
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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Anna Luce
★★★★✰ 4 stars

Its 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
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anna (½ 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
Dennis
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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Roman Clodia
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
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 stars

ARC from NetGalley
Jonathan
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-lit
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 ...more
Erik
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
"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
...more
The Artisan Geek
Feb 28, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: bookcase
28/2/20
Got super lucky and found a copy of this book last week during my book scavenging hunt ! :)


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Ben Howard
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)
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Eleanor
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Christopher Jones
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For a first novel I thoroughly enjoyed this story and will look forward to seeing what else Tomasz Jedrowski pens ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ ...more
Aaron Yates
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. ...more
GabrielP (Deleboy)
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
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noah
i cant wait for this to break my heart ...more
Karim  Boustani
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Montana
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, read-in-2020
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
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Alan
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weve always been a secret, Ludwik. Its just that until now there was no one to hide from.

OK, lets get the for fans of bit over with. Yes, there are echoes of Hollinghurst, of Aciman, of Philippe Besson. But the book that is at the heart of this new debut novel from Tomasz Jedrowski is James Baldwins Giovannis Room both in terms of its social politics and because the central characters both read the book during the course of the novel.

Set in early 1980s Poland, the story of twenty-two-year-old
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thebookiv
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dickon Edwards
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.
Ola
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Swimming in the Dark is a beautifully sad love story. The kind I love the most. What makes this book special for me is the author - it's a book written in English, for British and American market, by a Pole brought up in Germany, who lived in Poland but now resides in France. Even more special, and what distinguishes this book is the subject - gay love in communist Poland.

The book is written as a letter, a story told by Ludwik about his experience as a young boy exploring his sexuality and
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Jeannie Zelos
Swimming in the Dark, Tomasz Jedrowski

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

I was kind of expecting romance from some of the early reviews and comments, although of course its not classed as romance under the genre headings.
Its not though, there is romance in it but its not a romance per se. Its written as a sort of autobiography style, and I guess for me a clue that it perhaps wouldn't be the style of writing I enjoy is the Literary Fiction tag.
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Murtaza Kuwarawala
Title - Swimming in the Dark

Author - Tomasz Jedrowski

Genre - Coming of Age , LGBT

I had first come across this book when I was checking out a certain article on Goodreads and it was recommended one of the books to be read this year. A book that calls itself 'Call Me by Your Name' set in communist Poland attracted my attention instantly and when I got the opportunity to pick up the same, I did not hesitate and here is my take on it.

Swimming in the Dark is the story of Ludwick Glowacki who is on
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Catalina
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking, raw, full of angst. Plus communism. There's nothing like being "different" under an oppressive political system who endeavours to control even the thoughts of its citizens. "It was the same anger and weariness I'd observed in my schoolteachers, those who struggle to believe in the system yet punished others for doing the same."
A slim but complex novel: a coming of age, sexual turmoil and coming to terms with own sexuality, a in depth portrait of Poland on the brink of overturning
...more
Liina Bachmann
Mar 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
3.5

This gay coming of age tale that takes place in 1970-1980's Poland (parallelly in the US) is a debut novel by German-born Tomasz Jedrowski. The novel rights auctioned apparently for a six-figure sum. I am not surprised because novels on the same subject have been popular for quite a while now (since the Aciman craze).
"Swimming in the Dark" has some fantastically beautiful metaphors and vivid imagery. The atmosphere of the Soviet era is perfectly captured. It is clear that Jedrowski is a
...more
Siobhan
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Swimming in the Dark is a love story set in Communist era Poland, in which two young men meet one summer at agricultural camp, but then must return to the realities of the city. Ludwik is just graduating university and is worried about the future, both his and the country's. When he meets Janusz they spend time adventuring through forests, swimming in lakes, and falling in love, but then they must return to Warsaw and their very different takes on their own lives.

This is a short, captivating
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Emily
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Set in Poland in the 1980s, the story follows two young men as they fall in love against the backdrop of communism and social change. Its full of atmospheric scenes, great characters and dialogue. ...more
Judith
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 !
this was amazing - I'm very excited about future books from Mr. Jedrowski ~
Daren Kearl
I found this interesting for the historical background of life in Poland under the Soviet Union. I was familiar with the socialism inequality whereby party officials lived extravagant lives and the public queue for what they can get. The new aspect to this in the novel for me was having to hide who you were, to deny your true self because of the repressive regime but also to choose to live a lie in order to get on and be part of the problem.
Clemi
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt
5/5:
Devastating, pure and frustrating
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