Mircea Cartarescu transforms a family history into global literature.
The scene is Romania, sometime in the middle of the 20th century. Mircea Cartarescu, who is revered on the level of Jorge Luis Borges by literary critics, relates the history of his childhood and his country in the form of a series of sparkling, poetic and fantastical visions.
He is a magnificent writer, and this is a linguistic spectacular. What begins with 15-year-old Mircea setting out on a journey of self-discovery gradually develops into a visionary epic that mesmerises on a scale not seen since Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. The city of Bucharest is transformed into a representation of the world, family history becoming global theatre: the stage designed with meticulous attention to detail, the drama unfolding with an abundance of wondrous nuances, rich in humour and poetry. Mircea's mind becomes immersed in the collective memory of his kinsfolk. He evokes the tale of the Badislav clan who escaped to Wallachia, fearing the revenge of their dead Bulgarian ancestors. We learn of the foundling Vassili, who had to sacrifice his shadow in order for them to cross the frozen Danube. Mircea acquaints us with his mother and her sister, who frequent the nightlife of buzzing 40's Bucharest, where they encounter a black jazz musician who tells of magicians and voodoo priests - and about a mysterious sect known as "the Initiates" who will end up playing a major role in Mircea's life… This virtuoso novel merges the minuscule and the majestic, creating a stunning tableau that combines physical and metaphysical worlds in spellbinding concordance.
Bulgaria (Faber), France (Denoel), Hungary (Jelenkor), Israel (Nimrod), Italy (Voland), Macedonia (Ikona), Netherlands (Bezige Bij), Norway (Bokvennen), Slovenia (Studentska), Spain (Funambulista), Sweden (Bonniers), Turkey (Ayrinti), UK/USA (Archipelago)