The King

Wydawnictwo Literackie

Published: October 2016

A brilliantly depicted picture of prewar Warsaw. The reader can walk the streets and alleyways of the intact, multicultural city with its wealth of nightlife, extremes, and ideological struggles.


We encounter Jakub Szapiro as he is knocking out his rival after a brief and lopsided fight. Around the ring we hear cries of joy from the Jewish audience and the disappointment of the Polish fans. The winning boxer snubs his defeated opponent – a member of a Fascist organization. Triumphant and admired, Szapiro becomes an idol. He is not, however, the perfect superhero type. He is the right-hand man of Kum Kaplica, Warsaw’s “Godfather,” head of the Polish- Jewish mafia, which harangues both Poles and Jews without bias. The boxer ruthlessly pursues crooks and wipes out his opponents in cold blood. Kum Kaplica is known throughout the city. He drives a beautiful Chrysler, is munificent toward some and oppresses and humiliates others.

The developing events pull the reader into the jeopardous world of prewar Warsaw. Here conflicts are resolved by force, and the weak have no say in the matter. We encounter the fascinating and colorful figures of gangsters, gamblers, bourgeoisie, salesmen, athletes, prostitutes, and corrupt politicians from both sides of the fence. In his inimitable style, with impeccable care for historical detail, Twardoch portrays the life of the city and its criminals, as well as the political elite. He skillfully weaves in an unconventional romantic subplot and startling plot twists, ensuring his audience a truly intense read.

Published translations: Italian, German, Hungarian.