“You need to have a cover job if you don’t want to get caught.”

from Madame Mephisto

Madame Mephisto

Publication date: 19 April 2012
Publisher: Stork Press
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9571326-0-3
ISBN eBook: 978-0-9571326-1-0

Madame Mephisto

What would you talk about if you were stuck in a room with a drug dealer for five days?

Meet Magda – hardcore drug-dealing queen, or guardian angel? She is one of the new wave of Polish immigrants to the UK, a woman who will stop at nothing to expand her drug dealing business, and will even make the ultimate sacrifice of the people who love and trust her.

Already established as a major drug importer to the UK, Magda has to return to Poland to attend a funeral of a family member. She only has five days, before she goes back to London, to convince her mysterious listener to come back with her and help her build up her empire.

Magda begins to tell the unexpected story of her life - the cover jobs in London, the strained relationship with her family who know nothing about who Magda really is, and her development as a cannabis dealer. Can you really trust somebody who is two people, how do you know when to believe a professional liar? ... Menacing, fast-paced, with a unique and intense voice, A.M. Bakalar’s first novel reveals unexpected truths about the lies we all tell and the people we really are.


‘Reading and loving Madame Mephisto by A.M. Bakalar. Exceptional book.’ Deon Meyer, author of Thirteen Hours, Dead at Daybreak (shortlisted for The Sunday Times literary Prize), Trackers (shortlisted for CWA International Dagger Award)

‘The book was fun…Magda makes some great observations about Britain and is pretty scathing about the Polish and their culture.’ Guardian

‘Madame Mephisto shows how both totalitarianism and theocracy oppress women and infantilize men. Bakalar…captures how isolating London can be for newcomers.’ Max Liu, The Times Literary Supplement

‘Polish fiction / British polish fiction…a new line of fiction like windrush’ Winstonsdad’s Blog

‘Bakalar…has a sharp eye for detail, be it the business of smuggling or the tragi-comedy of the migrant experience…a very promising debut novel’ To Be Read

‘Intriguing read.’ Bibliotheca

‘Impressive debut novel...Madame Mephisto touches on the worlds of international crime, corporate culture, globalization and immigration and deftly manages to explore what has and hasn’t changed in Polish social mores since the end of communism through a vivid portrait of Magda’s family.’ Literalab

‘Magda is a sum of all Polish grievances and frustrations and an interesting study on self-destruction.’ Book Snob

‘A very powerful account of the liberating and sometimes bitter experience of living abroad.’ CaféBabelBerlin

‘Punchy debut…Mouthpiece of new Poland or amoral ballbreaker? … what’s most striking about the book is its vigour and the curious charisma of Magda herself. Balakar has created a contemporary anti-heroine with a heart of pure titanium.’ Bookoxygen

‘A.M. Bakalar created a memorable anti-heroine, worth adapting to the big screen…fantastic first novel!’ Literati