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Matei Florian

Self-portrait

Quasi-thin intellectual with longish bone structure and a relaxed look, former football player within the schoolyard and author of numerous executions crossbar-goal, of outstanding merits and far-reaching principles, wants to meet lady tranquility for the transaction of a beautiful novel. Posterity, multiple adjectives and matter-of-fact adverbs

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Biography

Matei Florian (b. 1979) He made his literary debut in 1997, publishing a number of poems in "Cuvîntul" magazine. In 1998, he became a reporter for "Dilema" magazine (now renamed "Dilema Veche"), for which he later started writing his own regular column. He has contributed reportages, literary reviews and short plays to the cultural press and radio. In 2008, he was awarded the Music Criticism Prize at the Gala of Romanian Cultural Journalism. His debut as a novelist was The Băiuţ Alley Lads (Polirom, 2006; 2nd edition, 2007), co-written with his brother, Filip Florian.

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "Ego Prose" series, Polirom, 2009, 262 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: All rights available

Book presentation

Matei Florian has created a fantastical world peopled with a legion of gnomes that consist of coloured mist. At the forefront of this legion, a new couple are getting ready to join the gallery of legendary lovers: Both Hams and Regretel (N.B. this is a single name and a single character, the novel’s hero) and his wonderful Tristina. Their adventures in the world of the ‘even-legs,’ i.e. grown-ups, do not take as smooth a course as you might expect for such fairytale figures. These creatures of mist, some of them lisping or even crossed with pixies, endure tribulations and even tragedies, the same as the humans around whom they float... Indeed, their sufferings are no different than those of the humans amongst whom they move, and in this the novel is much more than mere fantasy. Matei Florian allows his mist-begotten characters into the story precisely in order to give fuller shape to a deeper, human story, in which love swings between the realm of dream and waking, in a dance of yearning, interspersed with drama. Both Hams And Regretel is a fascinating book that takes the reader on a journey through the whole spectrum of emotions.

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Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, "Ego Prose" series, Polirom, 2006, 264 pages

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Czarne (Poland), Acantilado (Spain), Panorama + (Bulgaria), University of Plymouth Press (United Kingdom)

Book presentation

This book by brothers Filip and Matei Florian is original first of all for its technique : each narrator recounts an event from his childhood through his own eyes, while the other rounds off the story, gives it new meanings, and offers revelations to his co‑narrator and brother. Thus, ‘delicate matters’ that had remained unelucidated in the past are cleared up in the present, confessions are made, and truths unuttered at the time are now spoken. The dialogue between the two narrators provides delights for the reader, as the pair’s childhood grows from memory beneath our very eyes, with a candour and force that transports us to a miraculous world, interpreted and evaluated by the mature eyes of those who now reinvent it.
However, beyond this aspect, there is a freedom from constraint, created by the child’s viewpoint, whereby serious, personal subjects are dealt with, such as their parents’ divorce or the death of their grandparents, but above all general aspects of life in a totalitarian society. The aberrations of the ideology and way of life imposed by communism are refracted through the prism of childish naivety, which accentuates their absurdity and grotesqueness. What remains in spite of such aspects is a serene book, whose finale, to which every page builds up, is, in fact, brotherly love, a love ‘narrated’ through the personal miracles of each brother, miracles that are now dissected, brought down from the magic of childhood into a realism which naturally still preserves a question mark, a fairytale thread.
The authors familiarise us with the various characters that descend from the world of fairytale into Baiut Alley in Bucharest, where the two brothers live : for example, Sting and Stung, Matei’s friends, who suddenly turn up in a jar of mustard, and whom Filip now regrets, at the time the story is told, because he never saw them. Or we delight in characters who cross over from the cinema, television and children’s magazines, becoming ‘Joe Lemonade’, ‘Giani Morandi’, ‘Rome Specs’ or ‘Brooslee’, names reinvented for the stars of the day, filtered through the childish imagination and brought back to life for the amusement of the reader in the pages of the book.
Their shared love of football, moreover for the same team, Bucharest’s Dynamo, creates other episodes, develops another world, one of sighs and incomprehensible passions, which draws the two brothers closer, creating for them a shared frontline. This love unfolds at a level that comes close to poetry : football and its related passions are narrated with candour, so that we discover a story beyond the stands, another tale of the miraculous which we all too often pass by without discovering.
In the end, The Baiut Alley Lads is a novel about the miracles in our own back yard, regardless of whether they occur in an obscure lane in an obscure district of a land kept in obscurity by communist dictatorship. However, even if they are viewed only through the lens of naivety and now transformed into an exceptional tale, for miracles there are no impediments, no barriers. And those who attempt to raise barriers to the miraculous are, ultimately, doomed to disappear. What remains is a simple tale, but one that is astonishing in its power to absorb us even now.

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