• Swimming in the Dark

  • A Novel
  • By: Tomasz Jedrowski
  • Narrated by: Will M. Watt
  • Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,139 ratings)

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Swimming in the Dark  By  cover art

Swimming in the Dark

By: Tomasz Jedrowski
Narrated by: Will M. Watt
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Publisher's summary

"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.

©2020 Tomasz Jedrowski (P)2020 HarperAudio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

What listeners say about Swimming in the Dark

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Beautifully Written

There was nothing to dislike about this book. It was a beautifully written, realistic story of two young men in love during communist Poland. It gave us an insight into life’s struggles for ordinary people during that time, especially for Ludwik, the likeable main character, torn between wanting to be free of the communist regime and his love for Janusz. The narrator was easy to listen too.

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Together, Jedrowski and Watt are stellar

Flawless novel and unsurpassed performance. I will seek out and support both of these artists. The story ends in hope, and I hope for this story to be continued.

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So beautiful yet so sad

Such an interesting book. Its a gay themed story set in a most unusual setting - communist Poland.

The author so vividly and sensuality describes the sensations and feelings of a young gay man falling for someone for the first time. I really reminded me of my experiences and allowed me to feel them again through the characters.

The plot is rather predictable though, sort of the same as every other gay story set before our current day.

What really sets it apart from other gay books is it's setting in communist Poland. It was so interesting to hear about the forced labor for young people before they're allowed to graduate and the oppressive, inept government and how it affected people's daily lives. With some characters in support of the communists and trying to work in the system and others against it, it really gives food for thought and is an interesting look into Poland during that era.

I absolutely recommend reading this book.

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Touching

Beautiful narration and a touching story. I felt I knew these characters. Their world is so clearly articulated and their relationship so fully understandable. It is a most rewarding read.

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immaculate

for a novel less than 200 pages, this packed an emotional punch. kudos to the narrator for putting all of the feeling and emotion into every word.

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Beautifully Narrated

Outstanding story and Beautifully Narrated. I wish I found this story when I was a teen.

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This is a stunning book.

This is a stunning book. To start, the writing is something to admire on its own. I found it economic in the best possible way yet with a deep richness in the characters and environments. I found myself daydreaming of every person, every sweater, every street. I'm incredibly visual in nature so it really hit in a very specific way, the way that my favorite books do. If this kind of writing is something you admire I think you will be completely enamored with this book. I found myself looking at pictures of Poland to try to actually see the landscapes written about and I couldn't get enough.

The story is fairly heartbreaking but it's honesty and place in history and time gives a bit of ease. You may understand how we are products of where we sit in time, I'm not sure everyone will find some relief in that but I did. This story couldn't have happened another way based on when and where it sits so its heartbreaking but impossible to imagine otherwise. I hope LGBTQ people are having a better time there now, from the little I've read it seems only a little.

I highly recommend this book if you are someone who loves to understand how gay people made their way in life in different points in time and the effect that society has on informing decisions you make about love and how you view yourself.

Another case of a narrator, Will M. Watt, making an incredible book an even richer experience. Such a lovely voice that brought me deeper into the story and the lead character. One of the best I've heard this year.

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