About this book
Lambda Literary Award Finalist
Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction Finalist
Shortlisted for a ReLit Award
Shortlisted for an Independent Literary Award
This second novel by Lambda Literary Award
finalist Daniel Allen Cox (Shuck) is an incendiary story about two pyromaniacs who fight
homophobia in Krakow, Poland, one of the
fronts of the Solidarnosc revolution that eventually toppled the Berlin Wall in 1989. It's 2005, and Poland is grappling with its newfound role as a member of the European Union; the nation dips into moral crisis as Pope John Paul II
(a Pole) hovers near death while the country's
soon-to-be president makes homophobic declarations.
Radek, a bisexual artist and a practitioner of
the extreme urban sport parkour, is convinced
that fire is the great stabilizer. While creating
miniature replicas of the world's great infernos―Chicago 1871, San Francisco 1906, London 1666―he meets Dorota, a literature student and budding pyromaniac. Driven by rage, sexual curiosity for one another, and Pink Floyd, they buck church, government, and the LGBT community to find sexual freedom, escaping their
enemies by scaling the crumbling walls and
ideas of the city.
Provocative and unnerving, Krakow Melt is at once a love letter and a fiery call to arms.
Strange, provocative, and daring: all adjectives that fit Daniel Allen Cox's work. In Krakow Melt,
the writer gets stranger, more provocative, and more daring. Best of all, he's given us a novel that's both thrilling and fun to read.
Scott Heim, author of Mysterious Skin
and We Disappear
I've been a fan of Daniel Allen Cox's writing for some time, and in Krakow Melt
the wit, punch and sexual heat of Shuck
return, revved up even more. As we read we slip into a free zone of writing, almost as if the boundaries of the page had themselves slipped away and we were free to wander through Eastern Europe like natives, with the haunted and nomadic gaze of those on whom history has given up. Cox brings us a story of struggle, defeat, liberation and love that I will never forget.
Kevin Killian, author of Spreadeagle
and Impossible Princess
Dying Popes and gays with matches-two of my favorite subjects. Daniel Allen Cox reminds us that queers and their allies from Krakow to California won't stand for institutions getting between them and an orgasm. I say burn it all down, especially if it has stained glass. And buy this book!
Michael Musto, Village Voice
columnist, author of Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back
is Syd Barrett crossed with the Polish queer nation, a rollicking and heart-pounding urban jump through some grim realities and fine prose stylings.
Zoe Whittall, author of Bottle Rocket Hearts
and Holding Still For As Long As Possible
The description of a gay pride march ought to be prescribed reading for anybody who thinks activism is passe. Let your sense of foreboding guide you through Krakow Melt
until you smell gasoline and realize you are gripping your own box of matches.
Patrick Califia, author of Public Sex
and Macho Sluts
Cox proves himself to be a master of rebellion, a troubadour of transgression.
Gay People's Chronicle
You know how when you group your books in your bookcase by genre and there's always a few of them that defy easy cataloguing? Krakow Melt
is such a book ... Gender roles, sexual orientation, socio-political commitment and materialism are given valentines or bull's-eyes in the galvanizing prose of Cox. An author's second book is usually his safest but Cox proves that his first book Shuck
was no fluke ... The characters are smarter, the dialogue is sharper and the words themselves seem to come straight from Cox' unconscious.
Cox's splintered narrative, polished to an incisive gloss, bristles with both mischief and menace, and any of its short, titled chapters could stand alone. References to Pink Floyd, Polish pope John Paul II, and an unquenchable anger course from the first page to the last---a pointillistic poisoned pill.
In punchy and engaged prose that has become his signature, the author takes the pulse of a city that still feels the shadow of communism ... In the style of Burgess who speaks of devotchkas
, Cox uses po polsku words in his recipe, without anglicizing them.
Here is a look at the struggle for freedom in a place where we would not think that it would occur. I have no doubt that this book will end up on list of bests this year. I can only hope that Cox is already working on something else because I have a strong feeling that he is destined to be a major voice of gay literature.
Cox erases taboo and delineation at every turn.... The result is a volatile book that, while mostly contained and controlled, spills over the edges to create a meta-literary experience. Like fire, Cox's novel illuminates---and singes.
Author Cox employs terse, effective prose to reveal the consciousness of his characters and the time in which they live. His ability to create an entire world view and a sense of place - in few pages - is exceptional. In this respect, his style recalls that of another talented gay writer, Jeanette Winterson.
Bay Area Reporter
Cox has an off-kilter and erotic way with words; Krakow Melt
is a strangely wonderful book, an incendiary tribute to outlawed desires.
Cox's fiery mix of activist anger, sexual heat and transgressive humor is a tonic for a tired reader's eyes.
Richard Labonte, Book Marks
The second novel by Daniel Allen Cox displays the same visceral, urgent narrative style as his debut, Shuck
—Quill & Quire
[Daniel Allen Cox] has done it again. Written a brilliant f--ing novel with a character that grabs you by the throat and won't let go until he's shown you his world, at breakneck speed.
The most interesting fires are quick and intense, leaving ashen memories, and that's the way Krakow Melt
burns.... Drop what you're reading right now, turn your face towards the white hot Krakow Melt
and let Cox crackle your flesh.
—Out in Print
can be seen as Cox's realization, on paper, of a community talking to itself, or at least, a call for the queer community to talk activism.
—You Fight Like Anne Rice
Look out, Canada. A new literary enfant terrible has arrived on the scene, a fast-talking, funny, outrageous iconoclast who writes scathing things about the Catholic Church, parries his prose like a champion fencer, and describes the sights, smells and taste of sex as only a former gay film actor and stripper could.... [Krakow Melt
] is a cheeky, bawdy, irreverent and splendid little book that is almost certain to infuriate somebody.
Homophobia and intolerance consume in this intense and tantalizing novel by Daniel Allen Cox.... Beautiful and captivating, Krakow Melt
is a book you'll want to read twice.
—Sacramento News & Review
Cox is definitely versed in the art of telling a good story. I read the first half of Krakow Melt
without taking as much as a breath. The relationship that develops between its too main characters Radek and Dorota reads like a love story for the queer at heart.
Cox is a sophisticated, playful, and inventive writer ... The publication of this well-written and intriguing book coincides with a huge EuroPride march in Warsaw. No doubt about it - a unique novel like this one contributes to a sense of liberation.
—Montreal Review of Books
is, like Radek, brash, wild, and inventive. Daniel Allen Cox's real accomplishment, however, is his ability to use these elements - his sledgehammer side - not for shock value alone but to enhance a book that, at its core, possesses a lingering significance. In every revolution there are casualties, those who never taste the triumph they contributed to. When you want to destroy something, you run the risk of destroying yourself. The fire, however, is beautiful while it burns.
The interwoven political realities and the impact that the death of Poland's native Pope has on the people allows for a great sense of social import to the period ... I was captured by the post-postmodern feel of the novel, and by the resolution which is sad but, in a way, victorious.
—Roof Beam Reader
Daniel Allen Cox has created what will surely become a classic ... A book not to miss, as it is full of philosophical quips as well as being a great read.
The book gives a good historical overview of the political unrest and activism in Krakow and Poland, and I'm sure the situation reflects that of many places around the world.
A powerful bit of queer transgressive fiction, and a fascinating meditation on what it means to be an outsider.
—Gay & Lesbian Review
In the end, you might find yourself thinking about this book even after having finished it, its embers smoldering in your thoughts.
A beautifully subversive novel ...Cox is among the top young writers in this country. He is courageous, creative and inventive. He is also so, so what Canlit needs more of ... Simply put -- this is the best Canadian novel I have read in many, many months.