A.M. Bakalar on BBC Radio 4, Wednesday 17 December

The world is on the move. More than 200 million people live today in a different country to their birthplace.

Britain is a major crossroads of this seething human migration. Among developed nations more Britons live abroad (4 million) than any other nationality. Inward migration to Britain has been massive. Today more than 13% of the UK population is foreign born.

A panel of New Britons from all points of the compass debate questions raised by making a new home abroad. Questions like: How far do you assimilate? What is it like to leave one culture behind when the new one doesn’t accept you with open arms? How do you raise your children, born in Britain, when you do not fully feel a member of British society yourself? What effect does religion have on people’s ability to integrate into their new homeland?

Presenter/ Michael Goldfarb, Producer/ Anthony Denselow for a Certain Height production

About the author:

A.M. Bakalar was born and raised in Poland. She lived in Germany, France, Sicily and Canada before she moved to the UK in 2004. Madame Mephisto is her first novel and was among readers recommendations to the Guardian First Book Award. She is the first Polish woman to publish a novel in English since Poland joined EU in 2004.

Her writing has appeared in The GuardianThe International New York Times, Wasafiri, B O D Y and Litro Magazine. She was the editor of Litro Magazine Polish Issue and her short story ‘Whatever Makes You Sleep at Night’ was published in Wasafiri.

A.M. Bakalar lives with her partner, a drum and bass musician, in London. She is currently at work on her second novel.

(Photo: Mariusz Smiejek)

About the book:

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.



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