Swimming in the Dark, Tomasz Jedrowski
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. Sometimes I find I enjoy this type of story telling, more often it seems to be more erudite, as if its aiming at style rather than substance and for me its more the story that’s important, not so much the way its told.
This is beautifully written, almost poetic at times and I felt the sheer drudgery of life in Poland in the 80s, the daily grind to just survive that was the lot of most of the population. I can remember well the timing of Solidarność and Lech Wałęsa. I was in my early twenties, had a ringside seat so to speak, seeing nightly on the news here in the UK the progression of the movement.
Its not until reading this novel though that I understand just how tough life was for folk there. How difficult daily life was, the struggle to get enough to eat, to get medicines, to survive, and how oppressing it could all be.
I guess that’s really what the issue is for me in enjoying the story, I read to be entertained and educated but I also feel there’s enough drear in daily life, and I want a HEA, or at least the possibility from my reading. Here though I got a heart breaking story of two lads in love, but its a romance that had no way of ending well without taking a huge risk. I was almost in tears at the end for poor Ludwik, even for Janusz, as they really were living in a time and place where what they shared had little chance of lasting. Such a waste of love and life, and yet still in the world this type of issue is far too widespread.
Stars: Three, its a beautifully written tale, but the content was just too depressing for me to actually enjoy the story. It remineded me a bit of the short story version of brokeback mountain.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers