‘The Roulette Player’ by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated by Julian Semilian

How could I leave out our best-known contemporary writer? Although Nostalgia is usually described as a novel, each story is entirely self-contained. This first one is probably the best: the account of underground parties in Bucharest, where roulette of the Russian variety is played – and the extreme thrill-seeking or legendary status perhaps that one man is chasing.

Published as part of the novel Nostalgia, Penguin Modern Classics, 2021. Originally published by New Directions in the US in 2005. Fragment also available in Words Without Borders