Romania!

The Director of the Observer Translation Project, Jean Harris, just sent an email with a footnote to the statistics about translations into Polish that I posted last week:

The Observer Translation Project translates monthly into Polish along with Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish + Magyar, Bulgarian and Russian. We’ve been known to show up in Serbian…but the interesting thing is that from a Romanian point of view, Polish is a major target language. We regularly post news of translations into Polish, and we are very proud of our team of native speaker Polish translators.

Lo! Just look at this website: http://translations.observatorcultural.ro. It’s enough to make a literary programmer for some other former Eastern Bloc cultural institution green with envy… Here’s their mission statement:

The Observer Translation Project is an international magazine of Romanian writing in translation. Launched in September 2008, OTP showcases previously untranslated fiction. We highlight a “pilot” author each month. This is the place to learn about Romanian writers, find updates on Romanian writing abroad, read CV’s, take a look at covers published in countries around the globe, check out the bibliographies, dip into author photos, search our steadily growing archive, and discover essays that put Romanian writing in context. Look for single author fiction issues every month, with free-wheeling updates in between.

Oddly enough, a half hour after this email arrived, I was on the phone with Ms. Robinson at Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, who mentioned that they’re publishing a book by the Romanian writer Filip Florian this summer and even bought the world rights to it. It’s called LITTLE FINGERS and appears to be a mystery around the discovery of a mass grave. The only thing I’ve read from Romania recently is Mircea Cărtărescu’s amazing Nostalgia, which New Directions published a few years ago. But judging from this forthcoming book by Florian, the Dan Sociu poems in the latest issue of Calque, Dalkey Archive’s three books by Dumitru Tsepeneag, the fanciful excerpt by Ştefan Agopian in the OTP’s March issue (I’m sure the other authors they feature are great, too, I just haven’t read them yet), and last but not least the remarkable films coming out of that country in recent years, it seems Romania is experiencing some kind of cultural renaissance.

Incidentally, Wydawnictwo Czarne has recently published two other books by Cărtărescu: Travesty and Why We Love Women (the first evidently being a Romanian Middlesex widely perceived as Cărtărescu’s ‘gay novel’; the second evidently setting the record straight) along with a book cowritten by Filip Florian and his brother Matei; and they’ll be publishing both Florian’s LITTLE FINGERS and a novel by the author Dan Lungu later this year. The excellent magazine Literatura na świecie published a special issue on Romania last summer, which looks quite interesting; the table of contents can be viewed on their website.

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