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Lucian Dan Teodorovici

Self-portrait

  I think a combination of circumstances drives a man to write, as much as it drives him to become an actor or a locksmith. All things can be done with passion. My combination of circumstances was, I suppose, the fortune of having had a grandfather who told stories so charmingly that all my kinsmen used to come and listen to him. I also happened to grow up in a

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Biography

Lucian Dan Teodorovici (b. 1975) is the co-ordinator of Polirom’s “Ego. Prose” series, and senior editor of the "Suplimentul de cultura" weekly. Between 2002 and 2006, he was editor-in-chief at the Polirom Publishing House, Jassy. He has contributed prose, drama, and articles to various cultural magazines in Romania and abroad, including "Lampa"...

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "Fiction Ltd." series, Polirom, 2011, 400 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Gaia Editions/ Actes Sud (France), Libri (Hungary), Paradox (Bulgaria)

Book presentation

National Award for Prose - "Observator cultural" magazine
National Award for Prose - "Ziarul de Iasi" newspaper
Book of the Year 2011 - "Contrafort" magazine
The Public Prize, Romanian Book Market Awards

 

Matei the Brown is set in the period between 1945 and 1959. The novel’s protagonist, Bruno Matei, a Romanian puppeteer of Italian ancestry, is presented from two different perspectives, on two narrative levels. In the first, which unfolds in Jassy, a city in north-east Romania, over the course of the year 1959, he is suffering from partial amnesia following an accident, and is a free man, albeit constantly shadowed by Bojin, the secret policeman assigned to him. A relationship develops between him and the secret policeman, and a series of ‘mysteries’ regarding Bruno Matei’s past life are placed in circulation. As a diversion, the Securitate invents dramatic events in the main character’s past, events which obviously never took place, but whose sole purpose is to remould his present, to make him docile and obedient to the new totalitarian order.
The second narrative, equal in length to the first, focuses on Bruno Matei’s real past, spent in four communist prisons: the Uranus Penitentiary in Bucharest, the Valea Neagră Peninsula Penal Colony, GalaÈ›i Penitentiary, and Jassy Penitentiary. The two narratives unfold in parallel, so that the Securitate’s diversionary actions are one by one exploded by the often disarmingly innocent story of a man crushed beneath the juggernaut of the social and political changes that swept Eastern Europe in the second half of the twentieth century.
 

Matei the Brown is the first purely fictional work to explore the communist prison system in Romanian literature.
 

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "Ego Prose" series, Polirom, 2009, 248 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Ažsara (Italy)

Book presentation

The Other Love Stories might be regarded as a modular novel. Its eleven sequences can function both as self-contained prose pieces and as episodes in a single narrative, whose central theme is failed love. This failure can unfold at a number of levels, with each “story” bringing with it an additional nuance, an additional idea to give shape to the whole. In the book, two central characters pass from one sequence to the next, namely the character of the narrator, who is a journalist for a local newspaper, and his wife.

Their story takes shape not only by means of narratives from various periods in the narrator’s life (childhood, adolescence, the present), but also in the tales of secondary characters, in which the narrator is involved in one way or another. One after the other and in surprising ways, all these sequences provide various angles from which love can be viewed, while failure, an idea that insinuates itself at the close of the volume, demands that each separate story and each choice made at one time or another by the central character should be re-evaluated.

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "Ego Prose" series, Polirom, 2007 (2nd revised edition), 216 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Dalkey Archive Press (USA), Sphinx Publishing (Egypt), LíHarmattan Kiado (Hungary), Aisara (Italy)

Book presentation

The main character of the book, a man of thirty, lives in a modest flat on the fifth floor of a housing block. Every Sunday, the protagonist performs a kind of ritual : he climbs onto the window ledge and waits for a suicidal urge, which, however, never comes.
The events of the novel unfold over the course of three days. On the first day, the young man sets off to the town’s railway station in search of prostitutes. On the way, he runs into another young man, known during the story as the “bloke with the orange braces”, who has hanged himself from an old steam engine in an unused siding. The protagonist saves him and takes him to the station hospital, from where the bloke with the orange braces discharges himself on his own two feet. The main character will later find the man he saved in a railway workers’ bar. He is unwillingly embroiled in a fight provoked by the bloke with the orange braces, who breaks a chair over the head of one of the prostitutes in the bar, leaving her in a pool of blood. For the second time in the space of the same day, the protagonist saves the bloke with the orange braces, this time from the fury of the drinkers in the bar, and takes him back to his own flat. This is where the entire atmosphere of the story takes shape : a disabused world of strange neighbours and a building superintendent who is an old woman yearning for a relationship with a young man of thirty.

 

During the other two days covered by the action of the novel, we discover that the young protagonist is a member of a kind of club for “professional suicides” – people in search of death, sometimes for the most stupid reasons and in the most bizarre ways : one wants to kill himself by sleeping with as many women of easy virtue as possible, in the hope of contracting a fatal disease ; another wants to commit suicide by drinking huge quantities of the finest quality whiskey, until he falls into an alcoholic coma ; etc. They are all “suicide artists”, and it is into this strange group that the young man of thirty would now like to introduce his new friend. Parallel to these events, the two attempt to find out whether the prostitute in the bar has managed to survive being hit over the head with a chair. The answer will not be revealed until the end of the novel.
The finale closes the circle of the tale : during a further visit to the railway station, the protagonist discovers that the prostitute has died. He does not tell his new friend about this. At the same time, however, frightened at the turn that events have taken, he comes up with a plan : he convinces the bloke with the orange braces to go to the station, to the locomotive where he first found him. And he proposes that they both commit suicide. The young man tells his companion that in this way the railway workers will understand that they both regret the incident with the prostitute – and they will be forgiven. In fact, the protagonist’s plan is to free himself from the noose and to chase away anyone who tries to save the other, allowing him to die and thereby escaping from any legal consequences of his association with the prostitute’s murderer. The plan fails, however, for various reasons – the protagonist does not allow his new friend to die, but rather tells him the truth about the prostitute and about what he has been planning. It all ends with a roar of laughter, an agonised roar of laughter which consecrates the general principle and theme of the book, according to which whoever has failed at everything else in life can only be consistent and fail at his own death.

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Short stories, "Ego Prose" series, Polirom, 2004, 232 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Pop Verlag (Germany)

Book presentation

The book is divided into three sections. In the first, the texts centre on the grotesque side of insignificant events, and the humour tempers the dramatic intensity of situations in which we all might find ourselves. The second, autobiographical section is in fact a short novel about childhood during the communist period, in which a cruel system is presented from the viewpoint of a child. Finally, the short stories of the third section have a social and sometimes political moral, displaying a dark, dry humour, which often borders on the absurd.

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