Praise for Children of Our Age
‘unflinching yet ultimately compassionate second novel…Children of Our Age is an ambitious work of great scope and power. While the book’s arresting subject matter makes it very much a story of today, the narrative transcends its era. The book is a searing exploration of the ways in which people value and degrade one another, and of how moments of impulse and whim, rather than carefully reasoned action, can change the course of our lives.’ Mary Rodgers, Los Angeles Review of Books
‘Bakalar … artfully interweaves several narrative strands in this enthralling crime novel and manages the impressive feat of humanizing thuggish brothers Damian and Igor Kulesza … Bakalar does a superb job of making him [Karol] a plausible mastermind in this realistic tale of the challenges Polish immigrants face in 21st-century London. Captivating phrasing (“There were other things, less terrible things, the Kulesza brothers were supposed to be doing”) enhances the skillful storytelling.’ Publishers Weekly, starred review
‘Bakalar does not shy away from darkness … A novel about the power of language to estrange and, occasionally, connect.’ Ania Ready, The Times Literary Supplement
‘A tense and gripping thriller.’ Marina Lewycka, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
‘A.M.Bakalar eloquently exposes the tragic face of the immigrant experience; and this powerful story of exploited hope, perverse ambition and – surprisingly – redemption is one you will not forget. It is a tale for our time.’ William Brodrick, CWA Gold Dagger winner
‘Where I felt Bakalar excels is in her portrayals of motivated and believable people … Karol is an amazing creation … Children Of Our Age is set within a Polish community in London and has a strong sense of both countries, however the storyline itself is very much about human nature, gullibility and greed. It transcends any particular nationality … this is a thought-provoking and rewarding work.’ Literary Flits
About the book
Karol and his wife are the rising stars of the Polish community in London but Karol is a ruthless entrepreneur whose fortune is built on the backs of his fellow countrymen. The Kulesza brothers, mentally unstable Igor and his violent brother Damian, dream about returning to Poland one day. A loving couple, Mateusz and Angelika, believe against all odds that good things will happen to people like them. Gradually, all of these lives become dramatically entwined, and each of them will have to decide how far they are willing to go in pursuit of their dreams.
Insightful and unforgiving, Children of Our Age is a deeply human and timely story of Polish immigrants. Sweeping between their past in Poland and their present in Britain, this electrifying novel explores the ways unlikely encounters transform lives, the limits of loyalty, and love.
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.
Praise for Madame Mephisto, A.M Bakalar’s debut novel
‘The book was fun…Magda makes some great observations about Britain and is pretty scathing about the Polish and their culture.’ 2012 Guardian First Book Award reader nominations
‘Reading and loving Madame Mephisto by A.M. Bakalar. Exceptional book.’ Deon Meyer, bestselling author of Thirteen Hours and Cobra
‘a darkly-comic account of a Polish immigrant’s experiences in London.’ Lucy Popescu, Huffington Post
‘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
‘I found the book more moving and funnier than I expected though I was sometimes irritated by Magda’s destructiveness and slightly alarmed by the author’s detailed knowledge of the cannabis trade…It’s well done though, and the voice comes through strongly, drawing you into Magda’s world.’ A Discount Ticket to Everywhere
‘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