Mihai Buzea (b. 1971) studied Philology at university, graduating in 1996, and received his MA in 2005. He has been a teacher, insurance salesman, and contributor to Academia Catavencu (2005-2010). He has been a reporter for Catavencii since March 2010. His other occupations have included handyman, dog walker, translator, babysitter, Santa Claus, thesis ghostwriter, waiter, and night watchman. In the 1990s, he worked as a small trader (Prague, Istanbul, Krakow), in the 2000s, as a labourer (Budapest, Paris, Lyon), and as a copywriter (Bucharest). When Britain opened up to Romanian labour (1 January 2014), he went to London, where he learned the trade of arborist. In 2015 and 2016, he continued to work seasonally, describing the experience in his reportage novel Gastarbeiter, which Polirom...
Novel, EGO. PROSE series, Polirom, 2018, 352 pages
Mihai’s story begins in 1986, on the fateful day when he meets Bristena, a girl at his lycee, the daughter of a Securitate man, beautiful, intelligent, but also spoiled, vain, and sometimes unimaginably cruel. Inevitably, he falls in love with her on the spot and without stopping to think becomes one in the train of admirers who would do anything for her. So begins a three-decade-long affair, with all its ups and downs. Mihai takes part in the Revolution, he gets involved in small trading in the 1990s, making hair-raising trips to Turkey, before moving to the next level, trying the market in Poland. All the while, not only Bristena, but also her entire family take advantage of his gullibility, but nothing can stop him from following her everywhere, whether to Budapest, where he becomes a garbage collector and in his spare time writes his MA thesis, or to the mountains of Romania, where he works as a guide, or to Paris, where, when he’s not working as a day labourer, he tries to protect Bristena from her lover. Taking us all over Romania and Europe, written with Mihai Buzea’s characteristic black humour, Jimmy is the novel of a toxic love, whose consummation always seems to be around the corner, but which never truly becomes tangible.