Introduction to a Romanian Personal Anthology

I promised Jonathan this Romanian anthology a few years ago but soon found myself overwhelmed by the task, because so few of the truly formative Romanian authors have been translated into English, even less so their short stories. Occasionally, where I might have been able to present an extract from a novel, the translations were dated or poor.

The situation has not necessarily improved significantly in the intervening years, but I have managed to source a few additional translations, although I should warn you that some of them are my own, often done at short notice in a fit of pique because I was frustrated with not finding something suitable to share with you.

I also ran into a second problem: how should we even define ‘Romanian’ writers? We not only have a number of minority languages in the country itself, but many of our most recognisable names (Eugen Ionescu, Emil Cioran, Herta Müller, Paul Celan) did not write in Romanian. At some point I would love to edit a multilingual anthology of writers who could be loosely labelled as ‘from Romania’, but who write in German, Hungarian, Romany, Ukrainian, French, English, Tatar and so on. But we have to start somewhere, so here is my imperfect initial list of recommendations. I’ve attempted some rather vague system of classification, but those writers are slippery sods, who keep defying my attempts at organising them in themes, when the truth is that all of the different ‘schools’ could come under the umbrella of “haz de necaz” (Romanian expression = “making fun of trouble”).

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