Cărtărescu’s Nostalgia - The cult masterwork from Romania’s most celebrated writer

01 - 11/06/2021 @ online | Website, Facebook page and YouTube channel

RCI London is celebrating the release of Mircea Cărtărescu’s Nostalgia, in the universally admired Penguin Modern Classics series, with a programme of events developed in partnership with the prestigious publishing house. Widely considered to be the pre-eminent literary voice emerging from post-communist Romania, winner of laurels including the Thomas Mann Prize, the Prix Formentor and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, Mircea Cărtărescu is the creator of mesmerising worlds, supported by his unrivalled powers of observation and association.

The printing for the first time in Britain of this “fractalic and holographic novel”, masterfully translated into English by Julian Semilian, will only add to the reputation of an author who has amassed a cult following not only in his country but across Europe and beyond.

Photo exhibition: The Solipsist’s Archive

I envision dreams, memories, and reality like a Möbius strip whose sides are indistinguishable from one another.”

On 1st of June, Mircea Cărtărescu’s birthday, we are falling victims of an old illusion. With an elegant sleight of hand, the author draws out pictures from his personal archives, revealing moments going all the way back to his early childhood and adolescence, essential instances from his family life merging with his grand literary life. A chronicle of shameless youthfulness.

When: 1 June 2021, 19.00. Click here to watch the exhibition.

Discussion: The 1980s’ Generation and the Republic of Literature

The cultural milieu in which Nostalgia was written, in the most oppressive years of Ceaușescu’s regime, is revealed in a a dense and fascinating discussion mapping the prominent literary generation of the 80s. Three of its most distinguished representatives - Mircea Cărtărescu, Magda Cârneci and Matei Vișniec - meet cultural journalist Miriam Balanescu.

My literary friends felt the same way: we didn’t live in Romania, we lived in Hesse’s Castalia, in the republic of literature. We had an underground existence, we lived together and visited each other, we read each other’s texts and lent each other books.”

When: 7 June 2021, 19.00. Click here to watch the discussion.

Mircea Cărtărescu in conversation with Boyd Tonkin

As children, both Cărtărescu and Tonkin were avid readers at their local libraries and would have certainly started a friendship in a universe governed by a more merciful geography.

The author of “100 Best Novels in Translation” and former chair of the Man Booker International Prize meets the internationally acclaimed Romanian writer to talk about Nostalgia, the cosmopolitan tradition of the novel and all the important things boys who love books can think about.

When: 10 June 2021, 19.00. Click here to watch the conversation.

Photo Exhibition: Bucharest, as a foreign language

It has always been Mircea Cărtărescu’s ambition to make Bucharest his own literary property and the energies of the capital pulsate in the fibre of Nostalgia. Combining selected passages from the novel with the thought provoking 1980s art photography of Andrei Pandele, this crash course will teach you the basic vocabulary of an enigmatic city.

Bucharest is like the Basque language: you can learn it only from your mother (...) I see myself in it like in a huge, convex mirror.

When: 11 June 2021, 19.00.

Screening: The Restlessness of Time / Neliniștea timpului

A short film by Ștefan Constantinescu, reading by Mircea Cărtărescu and animation by Bogdan Marcu. In Romanian with English subtitles | 2007 | 7 mins.

When: 11 June 2021, 19.30.

All events will be in English and will be broadcasted on RCI London’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and website.  You do not need a Facebook account to watch - FB is simply a platform.

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Mircea Cărtărescu was born in Bucharest in 1956. His novels and poetry are widely considered to be the best writing to emerge from post-communist Romania. Mircea Cărtărescu‘s books have been translated into fourteen languages and he has received many awards, including the Thomas Mann Prize, the Prix Formentor, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the Romanian Writers' Union Prize, the Romanian Academy's Prize, and the 1992 nominee for the Prix Mèdicis, among others. He currently lives and teaches in Bucharest, Romania.
Books in English: Blinding (Archipelago Books, 2013), Why We Love Women (University of Plymouth Press, 2013), Nostalgia – A Novel (New Directions Publishing, 2005).

Cărtărescu is one of the great literary voices of Central Europe” - Olga Tokarczuk
Blending reality and symbolism, time and myth, Nostalgia is a cult masterwork from Romania's most celebrated writer. It was translated into 14 languages. With all the success now, it has hardly found a publisher for the first time. Before the 1989 Romanian Revolution, the book's manuscript waited four years in the drawers of the Cartea Românească Publishing House and then was mutilated by censorship - it appeared in 1989 with the title "Dream" and 50 pages less.

”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.” (penguin.co.uk).
The book is available from Amazon, Blackwell, Bookshop.org, Foyles, Hive, Waterstones and WHSmith.

Magda Cârneci is a poet, art essayist, and prose writer. Awarded a PhD in art history in Paris in 1997, she has taken on diverse public positions: as a visiting professor at INALCO in Paris and director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris. She is the former president of PEN Romania and a member of the European Cultural Parliament. Several of her works have been translated into English: Chaosmos (2006), A Deafening Silence (2017), and FEM (2021).

Matéi Visniec is a multi-award-winning Romanian-born novelist, playwright, poet, and journalist. He has been based in Paris since 1987, where he is a journalist at Radio France Internationale. Vișniec’s career is situated at the confluence of languages and cultures: he writes his dramas in French and his fiction and poetry in Romanian. Vișniec is the recipient of several awards including the 2016 Jean Monnet Award for European Literature, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romanian Union of Theatre Practitioners, Poetry Award of the Romanian Union of Writers. Mr K Released is his first piece of fiction published in English.

Boyd Tonkin is an English writer, journalist and literary critic. He was the literary editor of The Independent newspaper from 1996 to 2013. A long-time proponent of foreign-language literature, he is the author of The 100 Best Novels in Translation (2018). In 2020 Tonkin was the recipient of the Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature.

Miriam Balanescu is a freelance journalist, writer, editor and illustrator based in London. She specialises in film and books criticism. Miriam has written features and reviews for The Guardian, The Independent, i Newspaper, The New Statesman, and other publications.

Andrei Pandele is an architect and photographer. He captured everyday life in Bucharest in the 1970s and '80s and he has caught on film thousands of images of the communist regime, creating  photos that have become symbols. In 1975 he travelled with Henri Cartier-Bresson through his journey in Romania.

Ștefan Constantinescu is a Romanian filmmaker and artist based in Stockholm. He works in multiple mediums, including film, photography, artist books and painting. He has studied classical painting, film and video at the Bucharest Academy of Art and Film and at the Royal Art Academy in Stockholm. In 2009 he represented Romania at the Venice Biennale with the film Troleibuzul 92.