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Swimming in the Dark: A Novel
Swimming in the Dark: A Novel
Swimming in the Dark: A Novel
Аудиокнига6 часов

Swimming in the Dark: A Novel

Написано Tomasz Jedrowski

Озвучено Will M. Watt

Рейтинг: 4.5 из 5 звезд

4.5/5

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Об этой аудиокниге

"Imagine Call Me by Your Name set in Communist Poland and you'll get a sense of Jedrowski's moving debut about a consuming love affair amidst a country being torn apart." (O Magazine, LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2020)

"Captivating both for its shimmering surfaces and its terrifying depths. Tomasz Jedrowski is a remarkable writer." (Justin Torres, best-selling author of We the Animals)

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.

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательHarperAudio
Дата выпуска28 апр. 2020 г.
ISBN9780062987761
Автор

Tomasz Jedrowski

Tomasz Jedrowski is a graduate of Cambridge University and the Université de Paris. Born in Germany to Polish parents, he has lived in several countries, including Poland, and currently resides outside Paris. This is his first novel.

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Отзывы о Swimming in the Dark

Рейтинг: 4.416058394160584 из 5 звезд
4.5/5

274 оценки27 отзывов

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  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Narraçao bafonica e livro ótimo também. E essa capa eh tudo
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    It was such an amazing book, sometimes it can be hard to read some lines and realize that some things didn't changed through the years
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Absolutely beautiful and gut wrenching. I read this book for the first time three months ago - it has refused to fade away.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    truly a remarkable story , beautifully written and excellent narration , I loved the main character "Ludwik" and his sense of profoundness in every situation (but no to a cringy extent) , from meticulous attention to details of ambient to very well expressed thought process and motives behind every emotion and moves made him highly likable and retable in my opinion .
    the story itself follows the journey of ludwik over the years in his conflicted country and his situation in a very poetic, sublime yet very emotional manner, absolutely worth the read/listen.
  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    3/5
    The tattoo end of Communist Poland, coming of age, and first romance between to men... This is a tender her brutal honest story. It had just a little 80's flair but seen they the eyes of Polish youth and they experiences at the end People's Republic of Poland... The writing is great, the story is fleeting but fulfilling at the end.... Great characters and setting
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Beautiful and concise prose, and wonderfully narrated. A short masterpiece.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Incredibly written and narrated. The author has an amazing gift for illustrating ideas, using brilliant descriptions to explain the human experience and dives into some of the inner workings of the human condition.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    This book is a coming of age story, a bildungsroman, a coming out story, centered around a young man named Ludwik growing up in the 1980s communist Poland. Following him from his youth when a Jewish boy, on whom he has a crush, disappears. In his twenties at a summer work camp, he meets Janus and he falls for him. They are divided by communism and liberalism, in a country and a time where homosexuality was a serious crime.

    I liked a lot about this book. There is a sensuality, an openness that really attracted me to this book. It reads as almost a confessional, bouncing in time to draw significant threads of meaning in a bigger tapestry. “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin is woven into this plot and plays an important role in the protagonist’s life. I listened to this on audiobook and the performance by Will M. Wall was sensational. His accents, his breath, his nuance in voices was flawless. This performance was definitely one of the best I’ve ever heard. At time it had ASMR qualities, giving me shivers down my back, a quickening of my pulse. The book has sexy and tender moments capturing first loves, youth, rebellion, and freedom.

    I struggled with the writing in this book which at times felt overwritten. I noticed every smilie, many painfully obvious and blunt, repeating one after another. The author repeated descriptions in triplicate often which turned from poetic to imposing. I don’t think the author’s first language is in English, and it’s definitely not bad writing, just noticeable, especially in a debut.

    Overall, this is a beautiful story set in 1980s communist Poland which I haven’t encountered in gay fiction before. At times the plotting was too sparse and didn’t hold my attention though the audio performance and the subject matter entranced me. ★★★★★ ◊ Audiobook ◊ Fiction, LGBT, Coming of Age ◊ Listened on Scribd. ◊ Published by William Morrow on April 28, 2020. ◾︎
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    What a beautiful, sad and emotional book at the same time delicate. Impossible not to get caught up in the narrative and the character's journey of self-discovery.

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Fantastic book and narration is also exquisite. Wish there was a a part two. So long since a book moved me to tears.

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Beautiful! Heartbreaking! The writing was superb! Great performance! Highly recommend!
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Very good books on Poland LGBTQ history and the need for more stories like this

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Loved it. A very emotional coming of age story. Recommended.

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    The right book for Pride month! 100% would read it again and again!

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    A touching, bittersweet story. Very good narrator. I enjoyed it.

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Beautiful story and writing, and the narration was excellent.. Highly recommend it

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    A bittersweet and lovely tribute to the pain of war, isolation, bigotry, and history of homosexuality in Poland.

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Second person narrative is so difficult to use because it is extremely intimate and only certain stories work well with it. This book was one of them.

    From the very beginning, I knew this book was going to break my heart. Ludwik was such a strong character, from trying to find his place in society and the new form of government, struggling with his romance with Janusz, and, in the present day, letting go of the past. Janusz was also complex. He was trying to work into and up the political ranking system while working on getting the best of both worlds. We have a romantic and a realist/pragmatist in a controlling, homophobic government, both having opposing political views, they were doomed from the start.

    In a way, I wish we got more of Ludwik's present life in the states.

    Will M. Watt has such a soothing voice and did an amazing job narrating.

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    it’s so good, one of my favorites books now. ?

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    A coming out novel set in the Poland just prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Matter of fact, this is a story of a love broken up by a conservative set of societal norms. Remorseless in its vivid portrayal of a time and a place, it could have buried itself in cheap sentiment. But like the novel that plays such a pivotal role in the book (Baldwin’s _Giovanni’s Room_), Jederowski’s novel focuses on the social alienation of the narrator and his central dilemma: Can he be happy lying about his sexuality and his love? Spoiler Quote:“…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.”
  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    Ludwik, the narrator of Swimming in the Dark, is writing to a past lover, Janusz, about their time together after meeting in a summer camp. Set in 1980's Poland, the relationship develops amidst the decline of communism, and the two lovers find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide. Even after leaving Poland, Ludwik can't seem to get Janusz off his mind.

    “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.”

    This novel is poetically written. There are so many memorable quotes. Everything was given the amount of words needed to paint the picture as to what was going on and as to what the narrator was feeling at that moment. It was so well written that I would forget it was being written to Janusz. I felt myself becoming one with the story and really feeling for both of the main characters and their situations.

    The historical background was also interesting. I've been trying to branch out from only reading historical fiction written in the WWII era. To have a queer book written in what is the aftermath of that era really grabbed me. Thomasz Jedrowski was able to write little pieces of history here and there, even though Ludwik was writing to Janusz and both boys had lived through it. They obviously knew what was going on, but the way it was still included so the reader wasn't completely left in the dark was informative.

    Though set in a bit of rough history, it was a refreshingly lighter read written in beautiful prose about love, loss, and growing up and apart that I read in less than twenty-four hours.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Well written and vivid in details. I felt as I was there.

    1 человек считает это полезным

  • Рейтинг: 4 из 5 звезд
    4/5
    This is the mid-twenties coming of age story of a young homosexual man in communist Poland who struggles with his passion to live honestly and his love for a contemporary who has a passion to live well. Compactly told without sentimentality or indulgence.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Well that was sit-down-and-devour-it-in-a-day good, y'all.Gorgeous prose follows Ludwik through from his queer awakening in childhood to his first relationship in the final days of communist Poland. This coming of age tale intertwines his experience of romance with his social awakening with such elegance and grace that the two become inseparable from one another as with his personal growth. An immersive and compelling read. Great for lovers of romance and historical fiction alike.I received a complimentary copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways.
  • Рейтинг: 5 из 5 звезд
    5/5
    Real Rating: 4.75* of fiveI CHECKED THIS BOOK OUT OF MY LOCAL LIBRARY. USE YOUR LIBRARY, FOLKS! THEY NEED US.My Review: Happy Pride Month, US QUILTBAGgers! Let's celebrate what our fellows in Poland can't: A safe, sane Pride Month of more freedoms than were even conceivable even in my own youth of this lifetime.Ludwik is a normal child: he knows he knows nothing, is interested in the things the people around him tell him to ignore, and most of all is just discovering, like all kids, that he's Weird. Trouble is his weird isn't going to be so easy to live with in Communist Poland: he's fallen in love, at nine years old, with Beniek. A boy. But also a Jewish boy. In the 1960s, World War II was very much alive and deeply scarringly real to Poles. Somehow the Jews, despite their vanishing into German ovens, are to blame for everything...and here's little faggot Ludwik falling for a Jewboy. Oh boy.Then one day, Ludwik stops seeing Beniek around the way he always has been. Nothing...absence...awful heartbreak to a child whose loves are so fierce because they are so new. There is nothing like a disaster to make one aware of the freight we bring from our pasts, all the way out to our death.I was transported into a vision of my life that made me so dizzy my head began to spin. Shame, heavy and alive, had materialized, built from buried fears and desires.He's fallen; the only one who could catch him is now in Israel. (The Six-Day War happened, the Jews were expelled from Poland yet again.) Poor little guy, dropped into an ugly reality that connects to nothing, not any thing, in his loving heart. What the world will do to him....Among the first things it does to him is grow him up: mother and grandmother lock themselves into her bedroom, doing something deeply mysterious together. He pesters and nags, and finally Granny tells his mother it's time to come clean: they bring their Ludzio into her bedroom and listen to Radio Free Europe. For the first time, they allow him to be One of Them. Sadly.I thought of Mother, of her pointless life, her passivity. Of the years she’d spent listening to the radio, explaining her truths to me, and all of it for what? She’d died a submissive employee at the Electricity Office and had never dared to speak up or live out any of her ideas.The sadness of a dead parent, a father whose entire life was spent far away from them by his choice, never spoken of still less to, results in an unmoored adolescent. Luckily for him, he is at least aware that he is gay...that he can not be like the boys he tres to emulate for mother and for grandmother to see, walking with a girl hand in hand along their street. One post-loss night, an older man in a park where THEY go takes his innocence. (As a side note, if not for one of those same older men I'd've never experienced a positive sexual encounter possibly at all, so no tutting about ephebeophiles or the like.) It is, from that moment on, a necessity that his bitter angry self, unable to fake an identity he despises the same way he despises the lying system he's entrapped by, leave Wroclaw and get to university in Warsaw.Yay. That happens, there he is in his glory, but all courses end. At the end of his schooling, he is required to spend a summer harvesting beets, and there......my eyes fell on you. I had never seen you before—not consciously, anyway. Yet my mind felt strangely relieved, as if it had recognized someone.–and–“Pleased to meet you,” you said. “I’m Janusz.”Janusz. Two syllables that rise and fall and follow each other logically, almost inevitably, and whose sound together is so familiar, so natural, that the meaning of its parts remained hidden to me until years later: Ja, meaning “I” in our language, and nusz, sounding just like our word for “knife.”–and–You smiled, dissolving the tension, your teeth flashing in the light of the fire. We sat there for a while, in our private silence, worlds shifting in me.The dawning of first love! "Worlds shifting in me"...how utterly perfect and how very poignant to one so far from it as I am.It seems bizarre to me, that I'm the same age as Ludwik. I look into this mirror, lightly distorted, and think...yes, that was it, these thoughts are familiar though I was doing this before Ludzio in age. But yes. I'm right there, I'm fully immersed, this is the way it felt, that's almost exactly what I thought.It's unsurprising, then, that the rest of the course of first love is pretty particularly followed. Fear of rejection, fear of acceptance! Fear of the future. Wild, surging riptides of Jealousy! Swimming fearless and free in a moonlit pool, filling the darkness with your love for him, his for you, while every beat of the world's heart pushes pushes pushes...before you know its direction.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.–and–You listened, really listened, gentle eyes taking me in without judgment, making me feel more heard than I knew I could be.So universal, the course of that first true love. There are minor variations, specific things to a time or a place. The course, however, is steady and unvarying: delight, disillusionment, dénouement. Then, if one is amazingly lucky, a new relationship grows into place over the old one.The time of Solidarność, "Solidarity" in English, was the beginning of the end of Soviet Communism. Ludzio feels it in his bones, it causes him to rear back and resist and to refuse the whole idea of collaboration that his Janusz is making into a future...sadly we know how that will turn out for him.The queues for the shops swelled like bloody lips—deliveries had become so few and far between that the only way to get anything was to wait. The lines had started to occupy whole streets.And now Ludzio's frustrations are personal, his belovèd landlady/substitute grandmother, is very very ill and the system simply...doesn't care.“There must be something else you can do.” I felt the moment slipping through my fingers. “Please, can’t you make an exception?”She raised her eyes toward me again, this time without a trace of empathy. “I told you what to do. Now stop blocking the line for your fellow citizens.”Why I did not give this book its seemingly merited perfect score is simple: Threads are raised but not snipped or woven, merely left dangling. The doctorate Ludzio spends so much time and effort on doesn't go anywhere...there is simply no mention of it ever again. Similarly the absolutely divine Pani Kolecka, his Warsaw grandma-quivalent and landlady...from dying to recovering to vanished. Um...not really acceptable. How he gets to New York instead of Chicago, where he applied for a passport to go, is never discussed. What does he do in New York, in Midtown no less? What business would need him? Has he gone to work for the UN as a translator? The Polish Government would have some stern words to say about that.... Yes, it's a book told in second person (blech) addressing a man the narrator's left behind forever and will never see again, but some sense of how that came to be *possible* was missing and missed.In the end, though: It is exquisite pain to let go, to release the weight of the truth into a pool—deep, dark, and desalinated of all hints, innuendos, just lies—and save yourself, your future, your actual physical body without harming anyone else's life at all. “I adored this book more than you knew,” it read there in your stocky, right-leaning script. “I wanted to keep it . . . but it’s yours. Bring it back one day if you can. I’ll be here. J.” Fuck honesty. The price is too high, the interest Life charges is usurious, the carnage of Being Truthful lasts generations. Bravo Ludzio.
  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    3/5
    Swimming in the Dark is a poignant novel of forbidden gay love in Communist Poland in the 1980s. It is written from one lover, Ludwik, to the other lover, Janusz, after a year apart. Ludwik pours out his heart and his memories. Ludwik and Janusz meet at a summer camp, and after the camp, they consummate their love. But, it seems that they approach the political atmosphere differently. Written after Ludwik has moved to the US, this novel depicts the difficulty of being yourself and admitting to yourself who you are and who you love.Well written, very sad.
  • Рейтинг: 3 из 5 звезд
    3/5
    Well, this is a strange thing! It calls itself a historical novel, and technically that's what it is, since it's set before the author's birth in a time and place he didn't experience himself, and it's also separated from the setting by being written in English but set in a Polish-speaking environment. But apart from that, it's written without any 21st century hindsight that I could spot, as a kind of simple pastiche of an eighties gay novel. Even the style feels like a fairly accurate impersonation of an immature writer of the eighties who has recently been on an American creative writing course and has read far too much James Baldwin, Edmund White and Andrew Holleran. (None of which, as far as I'm aware, is true of the real Jędrowski.)You could say this fills a gap, in that there aren't all that many first-hand accounts of growing up gay in communist-era Eastern Europe, so maybe a book like this could help us to imagine what that might have been like. But it turns out that what Jędrowski imagines it might have been like is almost exactly the way we would have imagined it too, i.e. Giovanni's room with extra sugar-beet and pierogi, and there is very little in the way of unexpected detail to take us into the specific experience of LGBT life behind the iron curtain. A charming, sad, love story, if you don't mind things that are a little bit overwritten, but otherwise a somewhat unnecessary book.