Literary novel
Łukasz Orbitowski
Come With Me

A novel full of dynamic events and plot twists

“I met your father at a party in Gdynia, darling,” says Mum. “I knew at once there’d be trouble.”

For forty-three years she’s never said a word about him, and now she’s gabbling away.

This happens while I’m assembling a desk she’s ordered from IKEA.

What she needs it for I have no idea. As well as the desk, she bought a whole lot of binders, a waste-paper basket, a scanner, a printer, marker pens in every colour under the sun, and a document shredder. The delivery man dumped the boxes by the gate and vamoosed. The poor sod knows what he’s up against.

A couple of years ago my mum would have lugged all this crap upstairs on her own, but her hip’s gone, so she acts the goat, saying it’s just a temporary weakness and she’d be able to cope with the desk on any other day, just not this one.

I love her more than anything on earth. No question. […]

Mum, not in her first youth either, refuses outsiders entrance past the gate. As a kid I couldn’t let my pals into the house, and I was constantly trying to find ways to smuggle a girl in here. The postman avoids Mum as if she’d swallowed a bomb, the bravest delivery men get halfway across the yard, and a Jehovah’s witness who climbed all the way upstairs fell down the steps, knocked out his teeth, and, lisping away at the cop shop, he begged them not to press charges; I think he even threatened suicide: he preferred to go and stand before his vengeful God than to face Helena Barska in court.

As I say, I love her more than life itself. And every true love is difficult. My wife could tell you a thing or two about that. […]

Mum is very beautiful. I can’t see old age in her at all. She’s like a cross between a koala and a cobra. For several years she’s worn fluffy sweaters and she has a soft face with wise, snake-like eyes burning in it.

“It’s going to take us a while,” she adds. “Your dad loved me very much, and if it weren’t for that guy who flew down from the sky, he’d probably still be loving me to this day.”

I came very close to screwing my finger to the desk top. Oh well, Mum’s brain sometimes gets a bit scrambled.

[…]

My life is plain and simple. That’s the kind I wanted, so that’s what I’ve got, and there’s an end to it. There are just two tricky questions that disturb my peace.

One less so, the other more.

The first question is this: who was my father? Sons have fathers, except for me. It’s tolerable. Better to be born without a father than without a leg, in my humble opinion. Mum has never said a word about him. His name, profession and further fortunes were a secret for so long that I learned to live with it. In fact she could have kept it to herself. But let her speak.

I’m eager to know the answer to another, more burning question.

Why the bloody hell am I called Dustin?

Excerpt translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Literary novel
Łukasz Orbitowski
Come With Me

A novel full of dynamic events and plot twists

Publisher: Świat Książki, Warszawa 2022
Translation rights: Świat Książki, katarzyna.terentiew@swiatksiazki.pl
Foreign language translations: Hungary (Inna dusza, Kult), Ukraine (selection of stories)

Come With Me is a popular novel aimed at a wide readership, full of dynamic events and plot twists. The story centres around the unusual adventures of a Polish woman named Helena and a Russian man named Kolya. He was a Soviet naval officer, and she was a student of dentistry. They were passionately in love with each other, but it was an affair without prospects. In desperation, the lovers found a risky solution – they decided to escape to Sweden by motorboat. They set off from the port in Gdynia in 1959. Almost fifty years later their son, Dustin, tells the tale of these events, and especially what happened in Helena and Kolya’s life together after they ran away. In fact he doesn’t so much tell the tale as – before our very eyes – feverishly spend his nights writing out the story on the basis of his mother’s verbal account. He’s fighting against time, because Helena’s health is in serious decline.

Orbitowski’s novel develops in two directions: on one level we have something like a thriller/ spy story (on arriving in the USA, Dustin’s father became a secret agent), and on the other the main character’s efforts to find out about his father, who has always been absent from his life, and the painful consequences of this absence. Another important theme is Dustin’s emotional rapprochement with his mother, who at the end of her life, when her days are numbered, has become particularly close to him. As he gets to the bottom of his mother’s secrets he finally learns something about his own origin. Both layers of the novel, the adventure story and the psychological/social aspect, are cleverly interwoven. But there’s a third strand to the story too, located closer to fantasy: on the night when the lovers set off on their desperate voyage, an unidentified flying object fell into the harbour. Apparently a strange visitor emerged from it – or at least so said the local gossip. The theme of this alien from Gdynia will recur when Dustin’s father encounters it on one of his spying missions.

Dariusz Nowacki

Excerpt translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Selected samples

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Urszula Honek
Honek
Radek Rak
Agla
Mariusz Staniszewski
Staniszewski_Kartel
Paweł Rzewuski
Adriana Szymańska
Kazimierz Orłoś
Orlos
Rafał Wojasiński
Tefil
Antonina Grzegorzewska
Grzegorzewska_drama
Józef Mackiewicz
Mackiewicz_Sprawa
Tobiasz Piątkowski, Marek Oleksicki
Piatkowski_Oleksicki_Ekspozytura
Daniel Odija
Bronisław Wildstein
Józef Mackiewicz
Mackiewicz_Droga
Józef Mackiewicz
Mackiewicz_Bunt-rojstow
Witold Szabłowski
Szablowski_Rosja-od-kuchni
Andrzej Muszyński
Muszynski_Dom-ojcow
Wiesław Helak
Helak
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Jastrzebski_Dies-irae
Dariusz Sośnicki
Sośnicki_Po-domu
Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski_chodz
Jakub Małecki
Malecki_SO
אנדז'יי ספקובסקי
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jakub Małecki
Aleksandra Lipczak
Jacek Dukaj
Wit Szostak
Bartosz Biedrzycki
Zyta Rudzka
Maciej Płaza
Wojciech Chmielewski
Paweł Huelle
Przemysław "Trust" Truściński
Angelika Kuźniak
Wojciech Kudyba
Michał Protasiuk
Stanisław Rembek
Rembek
Krzysztof Karasek
Elżbieta Isakiewicz
Artur Daniel Liskowacki
Jarosław Jakubowski
Zbigniew Stawrowski
Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Jerzy Szymik
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło

69

Marta Kwaśnicka
Piotr Mitzner
Paweł Sołtys
Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
HKD
Jakub Małecki
Malecki_Horyzont
Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Olanda
Wojciech Kudyba
Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Bienczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Majewski
Weronika Murek
Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Swietek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

Ks. Tomasz Stępień

This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
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