'Cartarescu is one of the great literary voices of Central Europe' Olga Tokarczuk, Nobel Prize winner and author of Flights
'A Danubian Narnia. . . his writing delivers a rainbow-hued riot of fantasy, imagination and invention' Boyd Tonkin, Spectator
A dreamlike novel of memory and magic, Nostalgia turns the dark world of Communist Bucharest into a place of strange enchantments. Here a man plays increasingly death-defying games of Russian Roulette, a child messiah works his magic in the tenements, a young man explores gender boundaries, a woman relives her youth and an architect becomes obsessed with the sound of his new car horn - with unexpected consequences.
Blending reality and symbolism, time and myth, this is a cult masterwork from Romania's most celebrated writer.
Romania's leading poet plays with ideas of authorship and authority in this collection of five unconnected stories his English debut which he contrarily subtitled "a novel," asserting that "each part reflects all the others." Given the author's pedigree, it's disappointing that the book, extracted from its cultural context, loses much of its power. Cartarescu employs postmodern effects shifting points of view, blurring of dreams and reality, episodes of magical realism without enlarging in a meaningful way on the experiments of Kafka, Borges or Garc a M rquez (all invoked by the book's narrators). The first story involves a roulette player who survives against astonishing odds and a narrator who admits the roulette player could not have existed, but did, because "there is a place in the world where the impossible is possible, namely in fiction, that is, literature." "The Twins" consists of a fairly banal adolescent romance sandwiched between long descriptions of a man dressing in drag. Occasionally Cartarescu's prose shines, as with the description of a suicide on the pavement in "Mentardy": "his noble profile displaying its contour against a cheery stain, light purple and widening leisurely." But the self-conscious postmodernism of this collection may prove off-putting for American readers accustomed to conventions of realist fiction.