The King of Warsaw (2020)

Polish title: Król (2016)
By: Szczepan Twardoch
Translated by: Sean Gasper Bye
Published by: Amazon Crossing
Originally published by: Wydawnictwo Literackie

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.

“This is a real ‘boy’s’ novel. It begins with a punch—with a fast-paced description of a boxing match. All of Twardoch’s fetishes are in place: weapons, cars, suits. There’s exciting violence, a locker-room atmosphere, sexual fantasies, and voyeurism — we first see the main protagonist, the Jewish mafioso boxer Jakub Szapiro, through the eyes of an anxious skinny boy… A retro detective story in the spirit of Tyrmand, but darker and more brutal.” Witold Mrozek

“A brilliant and inventive novel about the Polish-Jewish underworld of the interwar period… highly suspenseful.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Something like a Polish version of Inglourious Basterds, in which the oppressed Polish Jews, supported by a likable Polish gangster, take revenge on Polish anti-Semites. Or simply a gangster picaresque novel set in an era that is increasingly popular.” Juliusz Kurkiewicz

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