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A city ignited by hate. A man in thrall to power. The ferociously original award-winning bestseller by Poland’s literary phenomenon—his first to be translated into English.
It’s 1937. Poland is about to catch fire.
In the boxing ring, Jakub Szapiro commands respect, revered as a hero by the Jewish community. Outside, he instills fear as he muscles through Warsaw as enforcer for a powerful crime lord. Murder and intimidation have their rewards. He revels in luxury, spends lavishly, and indulges in all the pleasures that barbarity offers. For a man battling to be king of the underworld, life is good. Especially when it’s a frightening time to be alive.
Hitler is rising. Fascism is escalating. As a specter of violence hangs over Poland like a black cloud, its marginalized and vilified Jewish population hopes for a promise of sanctuary in Palestine. Jakub isn’t blind to the changing tide. What’s unimaginable to him is abandoning the city he feels destined to rule. With the raging instincts that guide him in the ring and on the streets, Jakub feels untouchable. He must maintain the order he knows—even as a new world order threatens to consume him.
A Note From the Publisher
“Bold, powerful, occasionally surreal, a blend of historical fiction and noir thriller, multifaceted, intense and unsettling…Twardoch is one of the most fascinating and exciting storytellers of our day.” —Buchkultur
“Wonderful literature, a festival of language, a dance atop a volcano that toys deftly with narrative perspective, a gallery of colorful, sharply contoured figures.” —Tages-Anzeiger
“A great joy to read…This elegantly constructed and linguistically virtuosic book has a unique aura that’s practically impossible to resist.” —Deutschlandradio, Book of the Week
“A wild book, a crazy book, and a wise book but also a book full of cruelties, since it’s about boxers, gangsters, and monsters…in other words, it has everything you’d expect in a good novel, a very good novel.” —WDR 5
“Twardoch wins the reader over through gripping dialogue, compositional finesse, suspense that continues until the very end, and an unsettling story.” —Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“Twardoch’s depictions of individual characters, atmospheres, and political currents are precise, vivid, and ecstatic, almost to the point of madness.” —Rolling Stone (Germany)
“A brilliant and inventive novel about the Polish-Jewish underworld of the interwar period…highly suspenseful.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“There is no doubt in my mind—Twardoch is at present a writer endowed with creative powers of which his peers can only dream…The King of Warsaw is a deftly written thriller with a subtle and unimposing issue behind it.” —Dariusz Nowacki, Gazeta Wyborcza
“The King of Warsaw reads terrifyingly, embarrassingly well—together with the author, we are immersed in a whole swamp of sick ideology, brutality, and infinite baseness.” —Marcin Fijołek, wPolityce.pl
“Ultimately, The King seems a study in extremes: love and violence, sympathy and revulsion, fantasy and reality. That Twardoch can balance these extremes is a testament to his skill.” —World Literature Today