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Matei Visniec

Biography

Matei Visniec made his debut as a poet in the 1980s and went on to become a playwright. His plays have crossed borders, having been translated into more than thirty languages, and he has topped the bill in more than forty countries. His plays are among the most frequently performed at the Avignon Theatre Festival. Since 1990 he has been a journalist for Radio France Internationale, and he divides his time between France and Romania. In 2008, Cartea Romaneasca published his first novel, The Café Pas Parole, written in 1983. He followed the novel with Panic Syndrome in the City of Lights, one of the best rated novels of 2009 and recipient of the Observator cultural Prize. In 2010 his novel Mr K. Released was published : although written in 1988, during the author’s first...

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, Prose series, Cartea Romaneasca, 2016, 512 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

The typology Matei establishes in the title of his latest novel also includes the reader. There are shoe type readers and umbrella type readers. The shoe type reader is disciplined, patient, he has faith in the author, he begins a book from the first words and finishes it when he reaches the last sentence, without skipping so much as a comma. The umbrella type reader views plays on words with unease, he skips some passages and returns to others, some passages he reads slantwise, going deeper only if something captures his imagination, and more often than not he finishes a book at its start.
Reading this novel of a journey—through the world of ideas, through the history of the theatrical mystery, and also through the miraculous region of Provence — will provide a “tectonic” spiritual experience for both categories of reader (in the novel two tectonic plates clash : the first is the continent of life already lived, the second is the voluptuous paradise of fiction), but it will also act as a test. Don’t hesitate to obey your instincts and try to discover whether you are a shoe type or an umbrella type reader.

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, Prose series, Cartea Romaneasca, 2013, 336 pages

Copyright: Cartea Romaneasca

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

A parabolic novel about literature and the writer, and above all about how the present “devours” literature and the writer, drags him down into the vortex of the constantly new, of the undiscovered, of the eternal beginning. The author seemingly draws you into a collage of openings to novels, into stories that fascinate you just because they leave you waiting for an ending that never arrives. But it is precisely this wait that gradually becomes the long-awaited ending, it becomes a finality, it becomes understood. Overall, there is a story that links the beginnings, and this story is about literature, about the specific way in which you relate to a story and about the condition of the contemporary writer.

The third annual Augustin Fražila Literary Prize, 2014
The National Prize for Prose, awarded by Ziarul de Iasi, 2014
Nominated for the Observator cultural Prizes in the Prose section, 2014

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Excerpt from

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Novel, Cartea Romaneasca, 2011, 280 pages

Copyright: Cartea Romaneasca

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

Convicted of an unspecified, nebulous crime, imprisoned for many years in a penitentiary with mysterious subterranean ramifications, where he proves to be a patient and conscientious prisoner, Kosef J. is released one morning, without wanting to be, without being told why, without even being informed what his ‘being free’ will mean. As he waits to meet the director of the gaol, a meeting that is endlessly postponed, Mr K. discovers, to his stupefaction, the environs of the penal colony. As they traverse a concentric series of Kafkaesque worlds together with the ‘privileged’ protagonist, readers of the novel might, paradoxically, feel at home. A literary and philosophical fable, Mr K. Released is a homage to Franz Kafka, but it is no less an extraordinary parable of Romanian communism and of man caught in the toils of a system that was seemingly more absurd than anything even Kafka could have imagined.

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Excerpt from

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Novel, Prose series, Cartea romaneasca, 2011, 264 pages

Copyright: Cartea romaneasca

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

The central character of the novel Preventative Disorder is a young journalist who discovers the excesses and delirium of the media machine in a Paris press office. He allows himself to be initiated into techniques of manipulation by an older colleague, George, a man in the grip of a kind of metaphysical disgust. One night, an overly friendly rat turns up in the press office and seems to be trying to initiate a dialogue with the human race… During an assignment to Luxembourg to report on a European Union summit, the young journalist is surprised to discover that the proceedings are dedicated to “good neighbourliness with rats.” Human consumer society has reached crisis point and only the rats, which offer their services as living garbage disposal units, can save mankind’s lifestyle. And the best news the human race has ever received is that the rats are willing to mop up not only man’s material squalor, but also his moral squalor.
Against the backdrop of a narrative that glides from the real to the fantastical and back, the reader is witness to the rise of a new “media dictatorship” and discovers the existence of a mysterious press agency, which recruits new talent capable of dreaming up future “scenarios of disorder.” Now that the mass media have taken over the world, they have to produce preventative disorder in order to have news reports to file and to feed mankind’s appetite for sensation. Peace and real progress would spell the death of the media machine, which is why it also interested in always being a step ahead of real history and in concocting the next global scandal. In this novel/manifesto, Matei Visniec, himself a radio journalist (he worked for the BBC from 1988 to 1999, and since 1990 he has worked for RFI) attempts to provide an X-ray image of these new forms of brainwashing.

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Excerpt from

Novel, “Proza” series, Cartea Romaneasca; Publishing House, 2009, 312 pages

Copyright: Cartea Romaneasca

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

After the success enjoyed by the republished novel Pas Parole Café, Matei Vişniec returns to prose with a new novel. This time, the centre of the world shifts to the Saint Medard Café – an agora of letters, a contemporary Tower of Babel, whither gravitate only authors and characters. An entire universe presided over by a French publisher without a publishing house, Monsieur Cambreleng, who, worn out by reading the manuscripts he receives, the hundreds of pages of words written by authors avid for literary glory, in a world in which sound and image are supreme, decrees the death of words. His primary passion is now collecting dead books, which fill bookshops that have become abattoirs, due to readers blind and deaf to the suffering and tears of unread books.

In a Paris besieged by its glorious history and the famous figures who have inhabited it, countless unusual occurrences unfold, invisible to the untrained eye : a poem conquers the planet, a cat keeps a diary, a love affair spins out of control, dreams invade reality, and all the city’s inhabitants unwillingly become characters. Panic Syndrome in the City of Lights is a vivid dystopia, which takes shape beneath the pen of a failed writer, the central character in this total novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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