Smutna Miłość (Book Thoughts: Swimming In the Dark, Tomasz Jedrowski)

45169231I have a pile of TBR books, and when I finish one, it is always tough for me to choose what to read next – do I go serious, or light? My mood changes a lot, and there have been many instances that I would give up on something a couple of pages after starting it. But I just randomly chose to read ‘Swimming In the Dark’ by Tomasz Jedrowski next. I knew this was a gay love story, and nothing else about it.  I find out later that the title comes with a lot of hype, a bidding war for its rights when it became available.

Written in. first person in a form of a letter, the story is Ludwik, and tells initially of growing up gay in Poland. He realizes his orientation early on, and meets Janusz at a summer camp in 1980. They become lovers, as they go back to Communist Warsaw in 1980. It feels like a doomed love affair – Ludwik dreams of freedom, Janusz wants tp stay, and why not, since he has connections in the government and can lead an easy life – he has to pretend he is straight, and has no problems with that. Their story develops as the country has more conflict – rebels want freedom, and the government in charge desperately holds on to it. Even though we know that Ludwik is able to escape (he starts his letter writing fro m New York) we still get caught in the suspense of his story, and feel the depth of his longing for Janusz. It’s onw of those once-in-a-lifetime love affairs, and its setting has made it infinitely more romantic. This was one of those books I couldn’t put down and in fact, I finished it in a day. I wanted to know what happened next, and I luxuriated in the romanticism of it. This feels like it would make a wonderful movie as well.

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