Nicolae Breban (b. 1934) is one of the most important and prolific contemporary Romanian prose writers. He made his debut in 1957, in Viaţa studenţească (Students’ Life) magazine. Eight years later, he published his first novel, Francisca (also translated into Bulgarian and Russian). His novel In the Masters’ Absence was published in 1966, and Sick Animals in 1968. This last novel was a unanimous success with critics, being declared “Novel of the Year” and awarded the Romanian Writers’ Union Prize. In 1970-71, he was editor-in-chief of România literară (Literary Romania). His novel Plaster Angel was published in 1973, and the Swedish translation of his novel In the Masters’ Absence in 1975. These novels were followed by...
Short stories, "Fiction LTD" collection, 2008, 560 pages
Orpheus in the Underworld brings together five novellas. This is a genre that has given Romanian literature great artists, and this collection will return the novella to critical discussion and readers’ attention. In each individual novella, Nicolae Breban tackles the most varied of subjects, seeking in each a meaning and kernel of relevance to the reader. The author “plays” seriously, moving in each novella from pure realism to challenging metaphor. The differences in approach are great : for example, one of the novellas, “The Malicious Adolescent,” is inspired by the author’s screenplay for the film of the same name ; “Boz” is an elegy to the greatest drama Romania experienced under communism – the spoliation and humiliation of the Romanian peasantry ; and the novella that lends its title to the collection as a whole, “Orpheus in the Underworld,” is an attempt to describe the psychology of a child in contact with an exotic giant. However, the unity of the book lies in the unmistakable style of an author who is already regarded as one of the most prestigious Romanian writers of the twentieth century.