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Swimming in the Dark

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  26 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 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
ebook, 208 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2020 by William Morrow
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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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 1980’s 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 20’s), was a young 9 year old
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, 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 man’s identity and sexuality under Communist Poland.
In December 13th 1981 martial law is declared in the
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
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
Nov 05, 2019 marked it as to-read
This sounds amazing!!
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Initially giving the impression of some kind of Aciman/Greenwell love child, Swimming in the Dark doesn’t actually dispel that characterization so much as deepen it. Though I haven’t read Aciman, I don’t think he’s 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 men’s minds as he is in its effect on their romance. Indeed, he makes it clear that the two things are sort of ...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
i can’t wait for this to break my heart
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
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
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sep 22, 2019 marked it as unreleased  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-lgbt
a message to mister William Morrow Books: i am polish!! i am gay!!! please give me this book thank you
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020, lgbtq
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
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
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is basically the reminiscence of Ludwik as he reflects on his life. It takes the form of a letter written to Janusz, a man he met when he was a student at a compulsory camp, and he starts by telling him about an encounter he had as a child, before they met. His childhood friend Beniek and what happened to him. He believes that explaining this incident would better explain some of the things that happened between the two of them when they met and got to know each other.
Growing up in the
Rob Gillett
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Swimming In The Dark. It tells the story of Ludwik Glowacki, a young man falling in love and coming to terms with his sexuality against the backdrop of 1980s soviet era Poland. He meets Janusz at an agricultural camp and the pair enjoy an idyllic summer romance before having to face the harsh realities of life back in Warsaw.

Tomasz Jedrowski's story surprised me in the best possible way by becoming not just an endearing gay coming of age story but also an insightful and
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love in a bleak climate.

Set in 1970s-80s Poland, student Ludwik meets beautiful Janusz at agricultural camp. Over an idyllic summer they swim and fall in love. When summer is over, they return to a Warsaw riven by social unrest, political repression and exorbitant food prices. Ludwik demonstrates against the regime while Janusz seeks security within the ruling elite. As the crisis builds, their opposing political allegiances pull them apart.

Jedrowski brings alive the animal fear of living in an
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, gay-fiction
Oh man, this novel...
On the surface, coming of age story, gay love story, set in communist Poland, sounds like an absolute cracking combination, were it not so tamely and predictably executed. The prose is full of well trodden images and cliches, giving me a constant feeling of déja vu. The metaphors are so incredibly neat, every single observation of nature etc perfectly mirrors some point in the text and the protagonist's emotions are explained to the last detail. It is very much tell, don't
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
By the end of the first page I had mentally relocated myself to the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, Newbury Street in Boston, and Camden Drive in Beverly Hills; the location of the three Teuscher Chocolate shops where I've purchased Champagne truffles....always the large $168 box with the intention that they'd last me a week (but never getting past day four!). That's how Tomasz Jedrowski's new book, SWIMMING IN THE DARK unfolded for me: like a giant box of Champagne truffles that I couldn't put down, ...more
Kate Wilson
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written debut novel charting the relationship between two young men in Communist Poland. Exploring their hidden love and conflicting political beliefs, this was a great book to start off 2020 with.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tender, full of melancholy and heartbreak. And it feels so urgently real. An absolutely compelling and beautiful read.
Douglas Greenwood
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Beautiful story, but I feel the translation might be a bit clunky.
Devin Thulier
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exquisite debut from a talented artist, Tomasz Jedrowski has told far more than a story with 'Swimming in the Dark.' Through Ludwik and Janusz, he allows the reader to peel back the deeply personal and too often tragic dimensions of our inner-turmoil, and of the impossible decisions we face through a lifetime. He philosophically and artfully guides us through a passionate picture of love, rebellion, family, and the meaning of home. By the time I flipped to the very last page, a single tear ...more
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