The View from Here: Recommended Romanian authors
We’re off to Romania for our next country in The View From Here series on literature from around the world. Our guide is Georgina who blogs at Readers’ High Tea.
Let’s meet Georgina
Hello! My name is Georgiana and I live in Bucharest, Romania. My academic background is a blend of computer science and business studies, and at the moment I work as a management consultant. As hobbies, I enjoy travelling to places I’ve never been before and doing sports (snowboarding and squash). I’ve been interested in books since childhood, and recently this interest has materialized in a blog – Readers’ High Tea. I created it as a cosy place where readers share thoughts about the books they read, find what book to read next, and also read about other bookish stuff like discovering nice bookstores around the world.
I am currently experimenting a lot with my reading, so I do not have particular authors I like and read a lot. Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the exception here, as his gothic style made me fall in love with his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. I read both classics and modern authors, mostly foreign ones. The most recent book I’ve read and enjoyed (a lot!) is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Q Tell us about the traditions of literature in your country. Are there any particular styles or characteristics for literature from your region? Any themes or issues that you see reflected frequently?
The most common themes reflected in the Romanian literature are rural life (inspiration from nature, folklore, the daily lives of peasants), social and political conditions, and the effects of the war on people’s lives (including the struggles of intellectuals during the war). Modern writers also tackle subjects as spirituality, religion, and self discovery.
Q What books do you remember having to study in school that could be considered classics of Romanian literature?
Romanian literature is studied in-depth during high school years, ranging from from poetry to drama and novels. When it comes to the ones considered classics, I would mention Moromeţii (The Moromete Family) by Marin Preda and Ion by Liviu Rebreanu – two novels that portrait the ordinary peasants’ life. Another one is Enigma Otiliei (Otilia’s Enigma) by George Călinescu, a novel that presents the life of people in Bucharest at the beginning of the 20th century. Maitreyi (Bengal Nights) by Mircea Eliade, one of my favourite books I’ve studies in school, depicts the writer’s love story with the Indian girl Maitreyi Devi.
Regarding poetry, Mihai Eminescu is for sure considered one of the greatest Romanian poets. Tudor Arghezi, Nichita Stanescu (he was inventing words called unwords), and Lucian Blaga are also classics studied at school.
Q What books and authors are very popular right now in Romania?
The Vegetarian by Han Kang and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins are very popular at the moment. Also the recent Harry Potter related books (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) are quite trendy. In general, young adult books are popular, and also many self-development books (some examples: time management – Musai List by Octavian Pantis, life style – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo)
Q What recommendations would you have for readers who want to discover books written by authors from Romania ?
Unfortunately many Romanian authors are not translated in English. From the authors that are translated, I recommend Bengal Nights by Mircea Eliade, he was a Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago. Nostalgia and Blinding by Mircea Cartarescu are also worth checking out, as Cartarescu he is an awarded contemporary writer. Another recommendation is Book of Mirrors by Eugen Chirovici, which is said to be global publishing phenomenon.
Views from Around the World
There are 16 other countries featured in the View From series with guest bloggers from Japan, France, Canada and South Africa for example. Do take a look via the View From page.
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16 thoughts on “The View from Here: Recommended Romanian authors”
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Hi! Would you like to check out my blog as well, and even follow it if you would like? Thank you!(I am from Romania, but my blog is in English)
It’s so funny how Harry Potter transcends, well, everything 🙂 This is a great series, BookerTalk. I was very interested to read this interview!
the guest bloggers for this series do such a great job of sharing their knowledge. if you know of anyone you think might be willing to write a pst do let me know
You may want to try Zarina Zabrisky from Russia. You can find her info at her website.
ok thanks for the recommendation – will add this to my list….
Karen, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts about Romanian literature with all your readers ! It was a very nice exercise, and for sure it inspired me to read more books written by Romanian authors 🙂
Apart from Mircea Eliade (his religion books and Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent, as MarinaSofia mentions above), I hadn’t heard of or read any other Romanian literature. There’s a whole world of books out there, and so little gets through via UK publication or English translation! I love this series you do for that reason.
I am discovering a whole different world through these guest posts…..they are rarely available in book shops so without the recommendations I’d never know of them
How lovely to meet a fellow Romanian here! I will certainly be watching out for her blog and agree whole-heartedly with her recommendations. Most of the Romanian writers of the past who have been translated are now out of print, but there are a couple of recent publications which might be of interest: Eliade’s charming and somewhat gauche description of teenage life in post-WW1 Bucharest in his Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent (Istros Books) or Mihail Sebastian’s description of life as an intellectual Jew in 1930s Bucharest in For Two Thousand Years (Penguin Modern Classics), Scarred Hearts by Max Blecher (Old Street Publishing) and Dan Lungu’s rather funny and scathing I’m an Old Commie! (Dalkey Archive).
thanks for adding your insight to this Sanda. By the way I haven’t forgotten you volunteered to do one of these posts on Switzerland
Hello there! Thank you for your recommendations, I will most definitely look into the books you’ve mentioned!
What I’m struck by is the ability people have to read and write in English as a second language with such ease and style! Really interesting to read about specific books and their place in education, culture, popular imagination – while the books are different I thought there were similarities in subject matter in some of those education texts between Romania and Scotland. And having just looked at her blog I’m with Georgiana on the ‘unputdownable’ effect of the Carlos Ruiz Zafon books!
who would have thought Scotland and Romania would have some similarities beyond high mountain landscapes??
God, I’d love to be able to speak a little Romanian and read some of these in the original language.
i wish I could master any language at a level enabling me to read a book in its original format. Thankfully there are skilled translators around but then we have to rely on publishers to actually want to invest in a translation