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Cezar Paul-Badescu

Biography

Cezar Paul-Badescu (born 1968) graduated from Bucharest University with a Degree in Literature in 1996 and was awarded an MA in the Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature by the same institution in 1995. Since 1996, he has worked as an editor for Dilema magazine (in the meantime renamed Dilema Veche). In 1997, he edited an issue of the magazine that questioned the mythologies surrounding Romania’s national poet, Mihai Eminescu. The issue provoked irate reactions in the Romanian press and led to statements being made in Romania’s Parliament. Cezar Paul-Badescu was threatened with a “firing squad” in nationalist publications. In 1999, he edited an anthology named The Eminescu Case (Editura Paralela 45, Pitesti), which once more drew protests from the...

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, Top 10+ series, Polirom, 2012, 216 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

The Childhoods of Daniel Abagiu (the name contains a pun on the Romanian word labagiu, meaning ‘wanker’) is a collection of texts that can be read separately, as short stories, but which are interrelated and form a whole. The main character of these texts is Daniel Abagiu, episodes of whose childhood and adolescence are recounted. The book sets out to fill in the boxes of a Mendeleev’s Table of growing up in the final years of the communist period in Romania. Communism makes its presence felt, but it does not fundamentally alter the kind of experiences that children and adolescents have everywhere else in the world. There are tales of holidaying with his parents, schoolboy crushes (when Daniel falls in love with the head of the pioneer detachment, from an older class), magical times spent at his grandparents’ house in the country, children’s outdoor games between the housing blocks where they live or in the school playground, the live hens his parents buy from market and slaughter at home, the fledgling sparrow that he saves after it falls from the nest, the lyceum toilets that become a meeting place where pupils can smoke on the sly, and the protagonist’s first sexual experiences. Although written in the third-person, the texts narrate everything from the perspective of the child protagonist, with the candour and cynicism characteristic of childhood. Each text is also accompanied by another in the first person, which contributes the perspective of the grown-up Daniel Abagiu.
The boxes of Mendeleev’s Table are not completed in sequence, and some are missing altogether. And so perhaps a better analogy would be a game of hopscotch, around whose squares the reader is invited to jump and thereby reconstruct his own memories of childhood and adolescence.

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