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Florin Lazarescu

Biography

Florin Lazarescu (b. 1974). Prose writer and screenwriter. He graduated from Literature Faculty of the Al. I. Cuza University in Jasi. He published three novels What They Know About the Panda Bear (2003), Our Special Envoy (2005; translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Slovenian, Hungarian and Croatian), Numbness (2013; translated into Chinese) and the collection of short stories The Tube with a Hat (2009). He is the (co)author of the screenplays for The Tube with the Hat (2006, directed by Radu Jude, winner of Sundance Festival for the best international short film, 2007), A Shadow of a Cloud (directed by Radu Jude, premiered at Cannes in 2013), Aferim! (directed by Radu Jude, winner of a Silver Bear in Berlin, 2015). Contact :...

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Excerpt from

Novel, Fiction Ltd. series, Polirom, 2013, 248 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: People’s Literature Publishing House Co., Ltd. (China)

Book presentation

Centred on the stories of two main characters, Evghenie, an aspiring writer, who cannot find his real aim in life, and Valeria, his landlady, Florin Lazarescu’s novel captures not only their two different kinds of “numbness”, eternal writer’s block, in Evghenie’s case, and the fear of looming Alzheimer’s, in Valeria’s, but also the “numbness” of an entire city and all its everyday dramas. For, the city in itself, with all the minor stories that go to make up the wider story, is the third character in the novel, its pulse described now with bitter humour, now with specifically Romanian dramatic means, in a way that becomes spectacular, thanks to the author’s talent at constructing minor episodes of great power. Raising the issue of perpetual failure, in the form of the characters’ inability to salvage their recent memories and use them as a means of prevention, Numbness is a tale of futility, of hopes that exist only out of a human need for hope, but without any real horizon, of small joys which ultimately emphasise the tragedies behind them. A profound book, written with verve and great attention to detail.

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Excerpt from

Short stories, "Ego. Prose" series, Polirom, 2009, 240 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

Ten short stories that could also be considered as chapters of a novel, The Tube with a Hat recreates the vivid atmosphere of a Romanian childhood under communism. Although this is not the main issue of the book, you could find here an answer of the question “is the happiness possible under a totalitarian state?”.

 

The protagonists of each story – told from the perspective of a child – seem to say “yes, it is”, or “maybe not, but it worths trying, at least”. That’s because for them life is a playground where it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but if you fight to play by your own rules. Either a game of magical realism, or a tragicomedy, their existence is a continuous and spectacular art of improvisation to survive.

 

The short story that gives the title of the book was filmed by the director Radu Jude, in 2006, using a screenplay written by the author. The short film The Tube with a Hat has become the most awarded one in the history of Romanian cinema (more than 30 awards in festivals all over the world; between them, the one for the best short at Sundance Film Festival, USA, 2007). You could watch it (English subtitles) by clicking the following link:

The Tube with a Hat

 

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "Ego Prose" series, Polirom, 2005, 240 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Syrtes (France), El Nadir (Spain), Nikita (Italy), Wieser (Austria), Modrijan (Slovenia), Prozoretz (Bulgaria), Geopen Konyvkiado (Hungary)

Book presentation

A satirical novel at first sight, but one in which the author, with verve and talent, paints a fresco of the post-1989 Romanian press and all its flaws: pursuit of cheap sensationalism, the invention and simulation of stories, etc. However, besides this subject in itself, the author slips in a number of other hot topics from the contemporary world, such as ideological conflict, terrorism and so on. The narrative is packed with suspense and spiced with a series of unprecedented situations, which provide abundant humour.


The President of Romania announces his official attendance at the funeral of a leading journalist, who has died in a motorcar accident. The press hunt him for a statement, an Arab terrorist to blow him up. However, as a result of a misunderstanding, both Antonie, the special envoy of a local paper, and Mohammed, the terrorist, fail to intercept the President. The two “hunters” meet in an empty church (supposedly the place where the President is due to make his appearance), into which Mohammed bursts carrying a rucksack full of dynamite, shouting : “Die, western pigs !” After managing to convince the terrorist that Romanians can only dream of becoming “western pigs”, Antonie resumes his hunt for the president, finally arriving at a press conference after the journalist’s burial. Suspected by the bodyguards of making an attempt on the President’s life, he is neutralised with a punch in the face. Antonie loses consciousness, and an orange tunnel opens before his eyes, through which he sees his entire past life. And it is not just any life ! Having once been prince of ruins, he becomes a journalist typical of our times: superficial and always chasing sensational subjects.


The brisk narrative continually changes its viewpoint and outline, moving at a relentless pace. Florin Lăzărescu is a master of the technique of cinematographic exposition, dextrously alternating planes and following multiple, conflicting narrative threads. One of these threads is, of course, that of Antonie, who narrates the ‘world’, after having supposedly gained satisfactory knowledge of it. The second is reserved for his father, Iosif, a history teacher, who, after serving time as a political prisoner, raises his boy in the mountains, far from the madding crowd. Then there is Ioan, the monk who takes the young and savage Antonie into his care. Autonomous levels of the epic deal with the problems of Elvis the gypsy, with his “magic” mirror, drugs, and fear of his boss, the Moor ; and with the desperation of an Arab terrorist, in the form of Mohammed, who wants to blow up ‘western pigs’ starting further east, in Romania.


In a novel with much humour but also a whole host of occurrences that ‘construct’ Romanian society at the limits of the tragic, Florin Lăzărescu provides a perspective of child-like innocence, projecting worldly horrors into the realm of fairytale and ludic fable.

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