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Vasile Ernu


Excerpt from

Critics about

A Memoir, Ego-grafii series, Polirom, 2007, 272 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Ad Marginem Press (Russian Federation), Ediciones Akal S.A. & Foca (Spain), Hacca (Italy), KX - Critique & Humanism Publishing House (Bulgaria)

Critics about

“Born in USSR is a gripping and intellectually useful book. There are brilliant jokes in rich abundance, Ilf and Petrov are almost everywhere, and, generally, each layer of Soviet life is deconstructed into numerous facts and significant little stories, remarkably narrated by the debuting author. Beyond this appetising programme there are also very profound reflections, for instance, the analysis of the ratio between freedom and interdictions displays critical acumen and accuracy.”

(Daniel Cristea - Enache, Ziarul de duminica)

“This work owes its obvious freshness, in terms of the Romanian market, to a few tremendously banal truths, truths which were, however, repressed by the post‑communist cultural industry. Hold onto your seats : there was life under communism too ; there were people who laughed and danced under communism too ! And acknowledging this is not the same as forgetting the horrors of totalitarianism ! On the contrary : the work makes a significant contribution to the reinforcement of critical resistance to another hegemonic ideology : the projection of communism (and the East) as a new ‘Middle Ages’, a world of darkness, evil and savagery, a sort of primitive phase of humanity. Beyond these preconceptions, which continue to nurture some careers, Vasile Ernu’s work contributes to the development of a differential way of thinking, capable of conceiving far more complex things than Black and White, an exercise in the preservation and fructification of his own history while not ignoring its horrors. Vasile Ernu’s sympathy for ‘communism’, in fact his simple dialogue with the daily life of his own past, an invitation to make uninhibited comparisons, is dangerous only for dogmatic anticommunism, so provincial and predictable, peculiar to a culture at the periphery of capitalism, preoccupied with the internalisation of dominant ideologies, the Europe‑centred and capitalism‑centred ones. "

(Ovidiu Tichindeleanu, Observator cultural)

Born in the USSR is a miniature encyclopaedia of daily life in the Soviet Union, a life not wholly lacking in enjoyable aspects. Some were creations of the regime, the pioneers’ camps, for instance ; others were created by the ‘Soviet people’ in the context imposed by the regime, like the picnics following the May Day parades and, finally, through a bizarre transformation of a phenomenon into its opposite, there were theoretically negative situations that morphed into pretexts for having fun : queuing up at the food shops and the discussions that took place there. Vasile Ernu talks ironically and gently about the small pleasures of the Soviet people.”

(Florin Constantiniu, Dosarele Istoriei)

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