Swimming in the Dark

Morrow. Apr. 2020. 208p. ISBN 9780062890009. $25.99.
DEBUT This poignant love story unfolds against the backdrop of Communist Poland as the regime is about to come to its ignominious end in the 1980s. Amid the deprivations and duplicity of the era, two college students—Ludwik and Janusz—fall in love after meeting at a summer camp. They then spend an idyllic several weeks together in the countryside before returning to their lives in Warsaw. And that’s where their troubles begin. It eventually becomes apparent to protagonist Ludwik that his lover is ready to make all kinds of compromises to get by in a corrupt and hated political system—including making love to the daughter of an important official. Meantime, the more idealistic Ludwik struggles with his homosexuality, fully aware that it is a danger in a state where the government uses it to blackmail citizens. Eventually, he is left with the choice of compromising or leaving the country.
VERDICT German born of Polish parents, debut author Jedrowski here writes in English, and his lyrical prose reveals a complete command of the language. Readers who enjoy this impressive work will eagerly anticipate the author’s next book. Highly recommended for all who enjoy a tale of love under the most difficult circumstances. [See Prepub Alert, 10/7/19.]

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