Today is my stop on the blog tour for Home Is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire. The winner of the Impress prize for new writers in 2016, this is a story set in 1980’s Poland. As this is a setting I didn’t know much about I was intrigued to read this book and discover what life was like for its characters during turbulent times.
The events of this novel begin in the early 1980’s which saw the beginning of the Polish crisis. Here we meet Ania, a young woman who grew up in the countryside but has moved to the city of Wroclaw to attend university. Aspiring to pursue a career as a sculptor, Ania soon finds herself in the company of a group of bohemians and artists. And then there is Dominik, an enigmatic writer with whom she falls in love. Surrounded by this love, companionship and art, life looks good. However, life for Ania changes dramatically overnight as martial law is declared. There was a sense of unease as the crisis began to unfold with the military presence and curfews resulting in fear and confusion, with the artists driven underground. As the situation became more frightening, I was willing on Ania and Dominik in their fight against the government that tries to suppress them.
Prior to discovering this book I was unfamiliar with the Polish crisis, so reading this book broadened my knowledge of a turbulent time which left me feeling shocked. Through Ania and Dominik, Mcguire has explored a part of history that has been underexplored, and one in which we see the impact of a regime on a community. In particular, in the case of these characters we see how martial law hindered their art, and the struggle to create art in a time when their freedom was taken away. We see how Ania and Dominik’s relationship is impacted by these boundaries, and how they try to fight for themselves and each other. There were moving moments along the way, as the characters circumstances highlight what is most important in life, and what is worth fighting for. It also shows the importance of finding your place in the world, and finding your home.
I enjoyed reading Home Is Nearby, a book with characters that captured my attention which also introduced me to a time and place that is new to me. It is a book that asks some important questions about life and love, and of politics and art.
Home Is Nearby is to be published on 1st November 2017 by Impress Books. Many thanks to Natalie Clark at Impress Books for providing a copy for review.
This review was written as part of the Home Is Nearby blog tour. You can check out the other stops on the tour on the dates and blogs below!