"Romanian Writers on Writing" A Celebration with Norman Manea, Nina Cassian, Dan Lungu, Simona Popescu, Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Carmen Firan and Bogdan Suceavă
"Vanity doubled by vitality, vulnerability mixed in with force, and the fear of dissolution intimately linked with the desperate pride of defeating historical time confer upon Romanian literature a special tension, born from wandering and threat. The 81 writers gathered in Romanian Writers on Writing explore this unsettling tension and exemplify the powerful, polyphonic voice of their country’s complex literature." – from the Publisher’s Preface
Published by Trinity University Press, Romanian Writers on Writing offers a panoramic and unique glimpse into Romanian literature for English language readers, from 19th century to the present. Edited by one of the most important Romanian writers in the U.S., Norman Manea, the anthology is co-edited by Sanda Cordoş, with translations from the Romanian by Raluca Manea and Carla Baricz.
“Addressing itself primarily to the American reading public and readers of English at large, the present anthology […] offers a revealing and inviting window into the originality and profundity of Romanian literature.” - Norman Manea
The volume is part of the highly celebrated series The Writer’s World, edited by Edward Hirsch, now reaching its seventh volume. The series features writers from around the globe discussing what it means to write, and to be a writer, in other countries by collecting a broad range of material and providing access for the first time to a body of work never before gathered in English, or, perhaps, in any language. Previous editions focused on Chinese, Hebrew, Irish, Mexican, Polish and 19th Century American writers. The March 22nd event at RCINY will be hosted by acclaimed author Norman Manea, the editor of the anthology, and RCINY Director Corina Şuteu, with an introduction by Edward Hirsch, poet and J.S.Guggenheim Memorial Foundation president. The evening will include readings and informal conversations with guest Romanian authors featured in the book. Nina Cassian, Dan Lungu, Simona Popescu, Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Carmen Firan and Bogdan Suceavă will discuss about their process, the joys and challenges of writing. The authors will be joined by translators Raluca Manea and Carla Baricz, and editor Barbara Ras.
Watch a video of the event:
On Friday, March 23, the conversation about Romanian writing will move to the Bard College. The event named "The Writer The Censor The Market" will generate a discussion with the guest writers from Romania about writing under the ideological censorship prevailing during the communist regime and the economic pressure that replaced it, and the shifting place and role of the writer.
Norman Manea is Francis Flournoy Professor of European Culture and writer-in-residence at Bard College. His works in English include The Hooligan’s Return, The Black Envelope, and Compulsory Happiness. He has received, among other awards, Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships in the United States, the Nonino International Literary Prize in Italy, and the Prix Médicis Étranger in France. In 2011 the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York co-presented, with Bard College, Norma Manea: A Celebration, for the Romanian writer’s 75th birthday. You can read more about this event here.
A woman of many talents, Nina Cassian studied painting, acting, and music of both the symphonic and instrumental kind, among other things. She began—though never completed—studies in philology in Bucharest. After her debut in the literary world with avant-garde poetry (At Entrance 1/1), the writer engaged in propagandist writing — Our Soul (1949), Youth (1953), The Flower of the Homeland (1954) — but soon found her own voice and went on to create original and innovative verse: Open-Air Spectacl (1961), Let Us Give One Another Gifts (1963), The Blood (1966), Parallel Destinies (1967), Requiem (1971), Loto-Poems (1972), Of Mercy (1981), Backward Countdown (1983). She is also the author of a volume of prose entitled So Awesome and Adio: Fictive Confidences (1971), but also of an interesting autobiographical series, Memory as Inheritance (3 vols., 2002–05). She also published a number of volumes of verse for children, which were very well received by their intended audience, and completed an impressive number of translations into Romanian (especially of poetry). In 1985, due to the degradation of living conditions during the dictatorship, she relocated to the United States, where she continued to publish verse. Nina Cassian writes a nonconformist, ludic, protesting, experimental poetry that invents and subverts languages and displays a flair for the dramatic that unites the cerebral and emotional registers. (Translated by Carla Baricz)
Graduate of the School of Philosophy of the University Alexandru Ioan Cuza in Iaşi, Dan Lungu is assistant professor of sociology at the same university. He has published the volume of poems Edges (1996); the collections of short stories Collection of Phlegm (1999), Prose with Detail (2003), and Gang Guys (2005); and the novels The Paradise of Chickens (False Novel of Hearsay and Mysteries) (2005), I Am a Communist Granny (2007), and How to Forget a Woman (2009). He has also published a play, Wedding on the Ground Floor (2003). He is the author of a number of sociology studies, among which the volume The Construction of Identity in a Totalitarian Society: A Sociological Study of Writers (2003). Dan Lungu writes about the post-Communist Romania of today, choosing characters from diverse backgrounds, ranging from frustrated and aspiring children and young members of gangs to discontented workers adrift in a changing political environment.
A graduate of the School of Letters at the University “Al. I. Cuza” in Iaşi, Lucian DanTeodorovici worked as an editor with a publishing house. He is the author of the collections of short fiction The World Seen through a Hole the Size of a Joint (2000), 96.00. Stories (2002), When I Slapped Him Twice (2004), and The Other Love Stories (2009) and the novels A Little While before the Aliens Descended among Us (1999) and Our Circus Presents (2002). He also writes plays (Zero Audience, 2003) and film scripts; he is the co-author (together with Florin Lăzărescu) of the TV series Animal Planet Show. In his exploration of everyday life, the writer underscores its grotesque and absurd aspects. He is no stranger to meditation and parables, which he uses with humor and irony.
A graduate of the School of Philology at the University of Bucharest, Simona Popescu worked as a Romanian language teacher in a rural school and as editor at a publishing house. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Bucharest. Esteemed as one of the most important writers of the last decades, Popescu publishes poetry—The Xylophone and Other Poems (1990), Juventus (1994), Night or Day (1998), Works in Green or My Defense of Poetry (2006)—fiction (Exuvii, 1997)—and essays: Volubilis (1998), On Surrealism and Gellu Naum (2000), and Clava: Critifiction with Gellu Naum (2004). The obsessive theme of the author is juventus, construed as a unique state that combines timidity and fierceness, fragility and unsuspected force in a young individual; according to the writer, it is only by investigating youth that one can reach the “fluctuating fog of one’s multiple being” or arrive at the “core of the brain where states, images, voices unfold their nerve endings.”
Bogdan Suceavă is a graduate of the School of Mathematics at the University of Bucharest, where he worked for a time as an assistant professor. He holds a doctorate in mathematics from Michigan State University. He settled in the United States, where he is a lecturer at California State University, Fullerton. He has had a vast publishing activity with literary journals in Romania, and he edits an online journal. He is the author of the poetry collections Legends and Superstitions (1995), Visions and Portraits (2001); the short fiction The Fear of Sunset (1990), The Empire of Ancient Generals and Other Stories (2002), Grandfather Returned to French (2003); and the novels Under the Sign of the Orion (1992), It Came from Sharp Time (2004), Miruna, a Story (2007), and Vincent the Immortal (2008). Regardless of whether he writes about love, power, madness, or memory—some of his favorite themes—Suceavă valorizes in his excellent prose, which oscillates between the comic and the tragic, the strangeness (be it peaceful or explosive) of everyday life.
Graduate of the Department of Mathematics of the University of Craiova (1981), CarmenFiran taught math in rural primary schools and later worked as the editor of a newspaper. She was the executive secretary of a national cultural foundation, and in 1997 she became assistant director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York City. She moved to the United States in 2002 and is director of development of the New York branch of a Romanian patrimonial foundation. She has written theater, screenplays, novels (Closer and Closer, 1991; and Farce, 2002) as well as short stories (The Heater Repairman and the Wife of the Hermeneutist, 2005). However, she is best known as a poet and has published a number of critically acclaimed collections of verse: Illusions Tried on One’s Own Skin (1981), Paradise for Monday (1983), Tamer of Stolen Lives (1984), Clear Nights for You (1988), Purely Black (1995), Place to Live Alone (1997), Afternoon with Angel (2000), and In the Most Beautiful Life (2002). Firan writes confessional poetry that centers on love and mediates disquiet and anxiousness with irony and playfulness. (Translated by Carla Baricz)
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