Alexandru Ecovoiu (b. 1943) made his literary debut in the 1980s, but spectacularly came to public and critical awareness in 1995, with the publication of his novel Saludos (Romanian Writers’ Union Prize, 1996 ; nominated for the LiterArt – XXI Prize, USA, 1997 ; Observator (Observer) review Prize, 1998). Further confirmation of his talent came in 1997, when he published his novel The Resort, which was awarded the Prize of the Romanian Academy. In 2001, he published a collection of short stories entitled The Three Mozart Children (nominated for the ASPRO Prize), and in 2002 the novel Sigma (Prize of the Bucharest Writers’ Association). Polirom has published his Saludos (3rd edition, 2004), Order (2005), Sigma (2nd edition, 2007), and The Resort (2nd edition, 2007). The...
Novel, "Fiction LTD" series, 2005 (2nd edition), 416 pages
In Sigma, Alexandru Ecovoiu tackles a “risqué” subject, namely religious dogma – the major subject of universal literature. The fictional “conspiracy” has as its nucleus the Mentor, who makes an attempt upon the New Testament story of Jesus. With the conditioned and circumspect assistance of the Calligrapher and on the basis of the existence of a pair of twins (the two Jesuses), he constructs an anti-myth according to which the Saviour of the Christian religion did not die upon the cross. Without denying the crucifixion, the author nevertheless constructs, through the Mentor, a history parallel to that consecrated by Christianity, one that is, of course, daring in equal measure. Thus, the crucifixion of Jesus, as we discover on reading the “gospel” according to Ecovoiu, did not lead to His death, nor consequently to His resurrection. On the contrary, Jesus died much later, from gangrene caused by the wounds of crucifixion. This story, of course, takes a different turn from that commonly known : history is transformed at the very limits of sin, since following this unconsummated crucifixion, it is not Jesus, but rather His brother Thomas, who appears to the disciples. The entire story is as spectacular as it is heretical, in the full sense of the word. Its texture is interwoven with the pseudo-autobiography of the contemporary author, who, throughout the narrative, constantly discusses the subject of his novel with other personages : an Orthodox priest, an atheist and émigré friend (Hardmuth), and a lover reduced to the status of object for the satisfaction of carnal lusts (Icsa). In this way, a framework is created which gives the story stability, and ensures an explicatory basis that provides a guide to the reader.