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Razvan Radulescu

Biography

Razvan Radulescu (b. 1969) studied at the Faculty of Foreign Languages and the Music Academy in Bucharest. He made his literary debut in the group anthology Family Portrait (1995). His novel The Life and Deeds of Elijah Cazane (Cartea Romanească, 1997) was awarded the Romanian Writers’ Union Prize for Debut. He has written the following screenplays : Goods and Money (2001, in collaboration with director Cristi Puiu), Niki Ardelean, Colonel in Reserve (2001, in collaboration with Cristi Puiu), Feed for Small Fry (2004, in collaboration with Cristi Puiu), Offset (2004, in collaboration with Cristi Puiu), The Death of Mr Lazarescu (2005, in collaboration with Cristi Puiu), The Paper will be Blue (2005, in collaboration with Alexandru Baicu and Radu Muntean). He has also worked as...

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "Ego Prose" series, Polirom, 2006, 440 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

Razvan Radulescu’s novel Theodosius the Small, a fantasy that garbs social concerns in fairytale attire, concocts characters that would by no means be out of place sitting at the same table as today’s politicians, strategists or media personalities. The author “profits” from subjects and characters whose equivalent can be found in reality, filters them through his own sense of the absurd, creates exuberant identities for them and, on no few occasions, allows them, with ludic sadism, to kill each other, to lay traps for each other, and to reveal their grotesque face.
In the world of Razvan Radulescu, the geography of Romania is transformed : borders are jumbled in such a way that conflicts with historic roots are sparked in the resulting new territories. Within a fantastic Wallachia, we find miniature kingdoms, containing both familiar contemporary localities, such as Bucharest, Filiaşi and Petrila, and places established by narrative convention, such as the Mushroom Fields, Strawberry Fields, and Mushberry Valley. Of course, since conflicts in such important and interesting fictional regions require characters to match, the “potentates of the day” find their way in to the story : the masters who fight for a share of zones of influence and power. Thus we have Theodosius the Small, Gavriil the Catdog, Kalliope the Owl, Samoil the Minotaur, Otilia the Ghost, and Oliviu the Sheatfish Protector, allied with Duke Otto and the Purple Ants. These are characters who are specific to the fantasy and at the same time somehow affable, but who conceal towering ambitions and Machiavellian minds. In the kingdom inherited by Theodosius, too young to hold the reins of power, plots are hatched, intrigues develop, and spectacular battles are waged.
The backdrop appears to be historical – there are conflicts between palaces, kings sit on thrones, wars are waged by the sword, we witness banquets typical of times long passed, and communication is by means of courier – but nevertheless the story also has many elements from the contemporary world. And the interventions of the author, who assumes the task of explaining certain controversial aspects of the book, situate it within a fully postmodern context. These interventions on the part of the narrator, sometimes even taking the form of letters addressed to the imagined editor of his “chronicle”, although written in a harsh and sententious tone, are more often than not riotously funny, counterbalancing the bloody events of the story and providing welcome respite for the reader.
In the end, the novel is a story about childhood, seen through adult eyes. However, it is not about childhood in itself, but rather about its fantasies, about the way in which the events of today’s world are transformed by the vision of a child into fantastic madness, with comic horrors and sad comedies. A novel about childhood, but one whose message is aimed above all at adults.

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, ”Ego. Prose” series, Polirom, 2008 (2nd edition), 264 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

Elijah Cazane Père is an insignificant individual, who, because he has the “gift” of cultivating huge tomatoes, finds himself under investigation by the Securitate – the secret police. His confrontation with the regime cannot but end in the typical fashion, when he is “accidentally” run over by a lorry. His epic tale is continued by Elijah Cazane fils, who becomes the protagonist of a tale in which he had seemed merely a secondary figure. However, it is the son’s role to bring to life Elijah Cazane père, and thereby sketch a portrait of Romania in the 1960s, a country that rests upon naivety, vain hopes, people created by the system, and also victims of the same system. Vasile Chiriţă, the former interrogator of Elijah Cazane père, is a highly important character in the novel, one unique in Romanian literature in the way he is constructed during the course of the narrative. Introduced into the story as a perfect representative of the system, with a “glorious” future ahead of him, the colonel begins to doubt his own values precisely after contact with Elijah and his marrows, and above all the gigantic one-and-a-half-foot-wide tomato he has grown. His ideological position gradually shifts, tending towards a mysticism that affects his work as an interrogator. From the shadows, he even ends up taking an interest in the fate of the now orphaned Elijah Cazane, helping him to gain a place at a lycée college in Bucharest. But it is precisely his penchant for mysticism – going as far as séances to summon the spirit of Karl Marx – that will prove to be the undoing of the secret policeman, destroying his career and ultimately presenting him to us as a man outside the system, interested only in the fundamental questions of life.

 

Beyond its political dimension,The Life and Deeds of Elijah Cazane is a subtle meditation on the human condition, an ironic look at events, if we think of the ingenuous relationship that develops between the son of the torture victim and the daughter of the torturer, and a historical excursus. It is a novel about a tragedy, a book that is masterfully controlled, extremely well balanced by fine humour, and full of meaning.

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