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October 2004

Romanian Riches

At the crossroads between East and West, past and present, brutality and romance, lies the verdant cultural landscape of Romania. Our guest editor Norman Manea has convened a stimulating literary salon, including a startling diversity of styles and themes, ranging from Virgil Duda's somber account of the Romanian Holocaust to Adrian Otoiu's antic fantasy of Shakespeare's computer literacy. Mircea Cartarescu depicts the slippery slope from youthful intellectual pretentiousness into a career in the Securitate. Gabriela Melinescu pens a wry fable of Romanian Jews in Sweden. Memory and loss infuse Gabriela Adamesteanu's retired shopkeeper's tram ride into the past and Matei Calinescu's eulogy for his dead son. In poetry, Mariana Marin, Romania's Sylvia Plath, confronts her Karenina complex, and Marta Petreu conflates the all-consuming fires of love and death. Translator Julian Semilian deserves special thanks for his work in a language that is among the least-known in the Romance family.

This issue is made possible with a regrant from the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, supported by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.

It was simple it was evening it was October, Beretta, mon amour. You didn't even realize how I transmute from a mole, hounded through galleries of all sorts (oh, where did the euglena viridis about…
Translated from Romanian
It is bitter, each Passover, to read, in the luxury and voluptuousness of being The solitude of the four boards from the palm slapped over the cheek the morning tear urged against the abandonment of oneself…
Translated from Romanian
One day the Great Theme will arrive, opening the windows, it will sit down at our table, will drink the intact wine, will shake us to the core. The most beautiful…
Translated from Romanian
Red and White
I can't reread my old poems the being that wrote them distanced herself from me, with my very own hand I chased her away. I couldn't stand to see her wallowing in…
Translated from Romanian
In Another Life
We could have talked. We could have mixed our tears seed saliva sweat We could have combined book and flesh thought and guilt Oho! how we might…
Translated from Romanian
I've been here too. In the blank white patch (hic sunt leones) on the map. Here. In the heart of the phosphorous flame in the core of the star of insomnia of the absence of meaning here…
Translated from Romanian
A Friend of the Archangel
By Gabriela Melinescu
When Gabriel left his country for the first time he was 55 years old. At first he thought he was lucky to have escaped the communist hell. In his own city of Sighet it had become impossible for him to…
Translated from Romanian by Julian Semilian
Tip of the Day, or, Shakespeare and Computers
By Adrian Otoiu
For many, Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the English language. Few are aware of his lifelong fascination with computers.The heroes’ glory might be measured by the length of the streets that…
Translated from Romanian by the author
The Karenina Complex
By Mariana Marin
Will I still be able to write the poems that I never wrote all these years of ashes and smoke? Will I still find a strand of youth concealed between the world's words without nights of tar to drown…
Translated from Romanian by Julian Semilian
The Way You Might Break a Finger
By Amanda Michalopoulou
I am alive. Alive. My fingers look like nine little soldiers doing their drill in front of the window. In the building across the street a dustcloth waves at me. The hand doing the dusting is invisible.…
Translated from Greek by Peter Constantine
To Live in Sin
By Virgil Duda
Editor’s Note: The novel To Live in Sin (1996) is dedicated to the pogrom of the Romanian Jewish population in Jassy, June 29, 1941. This mass murder (over 10,000 victims), and the deportation of…
Translated from Romanian by Julian Semilian
I enter the room beside you. Take off my overcoat. Drop my handbag on the bed With bewildered gestures I take off my glasses Indecisive I stand fidgeting. I love you and feel frightened.…
Translated from Romanian
In Other Words: A Foreword
I rather suspect that when Sofia Coppola made her movie Lost in Translation, she prayed that it might turn out to be, if nothing else, a succès d'estime. Had that turned out to be true, her…
Translated from English
from Wasted Morning
By Gabriela Adamesteanu
“The preeminent voice among contemporary Romanian women novelists.”—Norman Manea
Translated from Romanian by Patrick Camiller
from Portrait of M
By Matei Călinescu
Author's Note: This biographical portrait of my son, who was born on August 24, 1977, in Bloomington, Indiana, USA, and who died on March 1, 2003, in his native town, not yet twenty-six, was written…
Translated from Romanian by Angela Jianu
By Johan Harstad
Everyone is vanishing.
Translated from Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin & Erik Skuggevik
Nabokov in Brasov
By Mircea Cartarescu
I was asked to join Securitate.
Translated from Romanian by Julian Semilian