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George Balaita

Biography

George Balaita (1935-2017),  one of the classic prose writers of contemporary Romanian literature. He graduated from the Philology Faculty of the A.I. Cuza University in Jassy in 1967 and subsequently worked as a draughtsman, supply teacher and P.E. instructor. From 1964, he worked as an editor and later assistant editor-in-chief for Ateneu magazine, published in Bacau. In 1979, he moved to Bucharest, where he held the position of secretary to the Writers Union. Between 1980 and 1989, he was director of the Cartea Romaneasca publishing house. His books, which have been published in numerous editions and translated into a number of languages, include Calatoria (The Voyage, 1964), Conversind despre Ionescu (Conversing about Ionescu, 1966), Intimplari din Noaptea Soarelui de Lapte...

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, Fiction LTD series, Polirom, 2016, 216 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

The novel rewrites an old Romanian fairy tale by one of Romanian literature’s most important storytellers, Ion Creanga. But the modern approach taken by writer George Balaita lends the story a different meaning, introducing fantastical characters, adding colour and depth to the devils with whom Stan, the protagonist comes into contact, and adding a contemporary satirical note to the peasant world Creanga created. A cohabitation, with multiple meanings, between people and devils, between people who acquire devilish characteristics and devils who you sense are capable of humane acts – this is how George Balaita sums up his novel. It is a book that contains a lot of humour, and also a moral. It is a spectacle, which sets out to reinterpret one of the greatest writers in Romanian literature.

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "George Balaita" series, Polirom, 2011, 560 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

In a provincial town, Antipa, a commuting functionary, is amusing himself with some friends. As a joke, he wagers at random on the life and death of some acquaintances. No sooner have they been ‘scheduled’ than they die. Are we dealing with a seer or a charlatan? A dark legend springs up around this man endowed with hellish powers that he himself refuses to take seriously. All the more so given that in his home town he is ‘the most docile of domestic animals.’ This is a book that encompasses what it means to be alive, and therefore forever menaced by death, almost in its entirety. Between irony and a certain cold (in other words, ‘Nordic’) pathétisme, the social, political and historical backdrop is discreetly, but no less emphatically, thrown into relief: a closed society, where boredom breeds monsters.


Conceived in the manner pioneered by Durrell in the late 1950s, in which the characters transfer to the author the role of evoking them from their own perspective, Balaita’s novel sketches character types with great refinement and gives rises to vital questions and disquietudes. The author gets caught up in the mechanisms of madness, random occurrence, and the fantastical. It is as if the world is built anew against the backdrop of a grey provincial town, the boundaries of life and death become blurred, and the virtues of formerly life-giving language are re-dimensioned. What seems to be a joke – Antipa’s seemingly playful predictions of other people’s deaths – proves to be the beginning of an absolute prophecy: that of his own exit from the world.
 

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