ROMANIA: Dumitru Tsepeneag
Dumitru Tsepeneag (born 14 February 1937) was a leading member and theorist of the Romanian “oneiricist” group in the late 1960s and early 70s, before the communist regime suppressed the literary movement. The regime viewed Tsepeneag as a troublemaker and in 1975 Ceausescu himself personally signed the decree stripping him of his Romanian citizenship, forcing him into exile. He settled in Paris, continuing to write in Romanian and later in French, as well as publishing extensively in the press. Since 1990, he has commuted between Paris and Bucharest. He has translated into Romanian books by Alain Robbe-Grillet, André Malraux, Albert Béguin, Robert Pinget, Alexandre Kojève, and Jacques Derrida. His short prose, novels, and collections of articles include Exercitii (Exercises, Bucharest, 1966); Frig (Cold, Bucharest, 1967); Asteptare (The Wait, Bucharest, 1972); Arpièges (the French translation of the then unpublished Romanian novel Zadarnica e arta fugii (Vain is the Art of the Fugue), Paris, 1973); Les noces nécessaires (Paris, 1977); La défense Alekhine, a book on chess theory (Paris, 1983); Le mot sablier, the integral French-language version of the bilingual Cuvintul nisiparnita (The Sandglass Word), the Romanian passages translated by Alain Paruit (Paris, 1984); Roman de gare (written in French, Paris, 1985); Pigeon vole (written in French, Paris, 1988); Inscenare si alte texte (A Staging and Other Texts, Pitesti, 1992); Nuntile necesare (The Necessary Weddings, 1992); Un roman la Paris (A Romanian in Paris, Cluj, 1993; definitive edition, Bucharest, 1997); Reintoarcerea fiului la sinul mamei ratacite (The Son’s Return to the Bosom of the Errant Mother, Jassy, 1993); Hotel Europa (Bucharest and Paris, 1996); Calatorie neizbutita (Abortive Journey, Bucharest 1998); Pont des Arts (Paris, 1998); Razboiul literaturii inca nu s-a incheiat (The Literature War is Not Yet Over, Bucharest, 2000); Prin gaura gheii (Through the Keyhole, Bucharest, 2001); Destin cu Popesti (A Fate with the Popescus, Cluj, 2001); Maramures (Cluj, 2001); Attente (Paris, 2003); Clepsidra rasturnata. Dialog cu Ion Simut (The Upturned Hourglass. Dialogue with Ion Simut, Pitesti, 2003); La belle Roumaine (Pitesti, 2004, Paris, 2006); Capitalism de cumetrie (Godfather Capitalism, Polirom, 2007); and Frappes chirurgicales (Paris, 2009).
Photo © Sarah Moon.
(The Bulgarian Truck)
by Dumitru Tsepeneag
Translated byAlistair Ian Blyth
Polirom Publishing House, Iasi/Bucharest, 2010
A love affair between the main character/narrator and Milena/Mailena, a Slovak writer, comes into being in the virtual world, thanks to an assiduous exchange of e-mails, which intersect with the narrator’s messages to his wife, Marianne, who is in New York to treat a mysterious illness. In parallel, the narrator invents Tsvetan, a macho Bulgarian truck driver who is making his way across Europe, and Beatrice, an inscrutable dancer and lover of hedgehogs. Dumitru Tsepeneag weaves together the lives of these two characters invented by his narrator in a way that is strange and wholly unique. But behind the sound of the book, there is a more solemn story, one of emotions and lost illusions. For, ultimately, The Bulgarian Truck is a story of old age and of preparing oneself to meet death.
“From the outset, Dumitru Tspeneag opted for experimental prose and almost all his narratives are narratives of a text, rather than texts of a narrative, if we accept the distinction made by the theorists of the Nouveau Roman. In The Bulgarian Truck he goes further: he places all his cards on the table, he depicts the conventions of the experimental novel, he reveals the tricks of narrative, he converses with his characters about the construction and deconstruction of the novel he is trying to write. Finally, he turns his hesitations into an epic and rather than offering a unitary and coherent work, he presents its building site. In this new textual adventure, the writer wagers on the reader’s curiosity to discover the secrets of an atypical novelist. It must be said that he succeeds.” - Eugen SIMION
About the translator
Alistair Ian Blyth's translations from Romanian include the novels Little Fingers and The Days of the King by Filip Florian (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Our Circus Presents... by Lucian Dan Teodorovici (Dalkey Archive Press), Coming from an Off-key Time by Bogdan Suceavă (Northwestern University Press), and Occurrences in the Immediate Unreality by Max Blecher (Plymouth University Press), short fiction by Cosmin Manolache and Iulian Ciocan (Dalkey, Best European Fiction), and non-fiction works An Intellectual History of Cannibalism by Cătălin Avramescu (Princeton University Press) and Becoming Within Being by Constantin Noica (Marquette University Press).