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Filip Florian

Excerpt from

Critics about

Novel, Fiction LTD series, Polirom, 2012, 280 pages

Copyright: Filip Florian

Translation rights sold to: Matthes &Seitz Berlin (Germany), Bookart (Hungary)

Critics about

 “Once you have entered that small town in the mountains, where the destinies of the two protagonists come together, once you have been caught in the spider’s web of this writer of exceptional finesse and mastery (yes, mastery, I know you despise the word, but sometimes it is impossible to replace it with ersatz theoretical terms), your reading of the novel envelops you, clasps you, suffocates you irresistibly: you empathise with each character so strongly that you are irritated by the shifts of perspective from the one to the other, but only for about two lines, after which you slip inside his skin.”

(Bogdan Alexandru STANESCU)

 “All the Owls is a splendid novel, with complex tonalities (from humour to drama, from childish magic to the trauma of the communist prisons), which touches upon the major themes of literature: time and memory, initiation and the shaping relationship between master and disciple. With its central, total symbol of the owls (all the owls) – the birds that know all there is to be known, the shared passion that binds Emil and Lucian – the novel has the sound of an initiatory and enchanted story, which is to say, the sound of high art.”


“The child ‘steals mastery’ from the adult he frequents: he secretly leafs through his notebooks; he discreetly studies his favourite music (primarily Mozart and Janis Joplin) and literature (Mark Twain, Gool); he studies the protocol for dialogue with the owls (which, he assures us, he will brilliantly continue). This strange protocol might provide a metaphor that conceals nothing less than the literary art itself: novelist Filip Florian’s sole preoccupation and, what is more, his field of excellence.”

(Cosmin CIOTLOS)

“Besides his pleasure in storytelling, Filip Florian is also concerned with the living sentence, with its communicatory innards. He has a watchmaker’s patience in meshing delicate springs, tiny cogs and rubies, capable of reproducing life, living, time and the times in his text, of making them tangible in all their mystery. And in All the Owls Filip Florian also has another quality, one that is on the verge of extinction today: a feeling for wild nature.”

(Adriana BITTEL)

“Filip Florian’s writing is as absorbing as opium: voices, rhythms, figures that haunt you long after you have closed the book. Let us not deceive ourselves: what we discover in All the Owls is not a bildungsroman, but a kind of paired, simultaneous flight across the firmaments of the two characters’ experiences.”

(Stefan MANASIA)

 “Filip Florian pays such careful attention to the nuance and the detail that every page abounds in observations that elude the ordinary eye. This is why he has titled his latest book All the Owls, because our author has the eyes of an owl, which see in every direction and in all lighting conditions. For him, history is a terrain for meditation only to the extent to which he is able to discover the choicest and finest details in it. So, there is nothing coarse or ideological in the writing of this subtle author, who, in his aristocratic spirit, somehow belongs to Central Europe. From the delicate test tube in which mingled venom and elixir have been distilled, the author pours a single drop on each page and obtains a guaranteed aesthetic effect.”


“One of Filip Florian’s essential qualities, which can here be seen to the full, is the sensibility, the delicacy of his filigree typologies and psychologies, especially when they are marked, imprinted by the social. All the Owls is a novel of initiation, of male friendship. A friendship between a sexagenarian and an eleven-year-old boy, who by the end will have reached the age of twenty-four, becoming a meteorologist at a weather station on the top of Mount Stetu, at 2,280 metres. If it is not possible to understand and love the world even there, then where else?”


 “The novel All the Owls is brimful of stories, it is friendly, and it has perfectly framed episodes that make their imprint on the reading of the novel and transform it into a journey. It is a book that makes the reader grow, which nurtures you from one page to the next, which does not allow you to stop long enough to realise that you have fallen in love with it.”


“What happens here is something rather strange (and the author produces extraordinary effects using this masterfully maintained strangeness): in a prose work about childhood set at the beginning of the third millennium, in the midst of hi-tech madness, the atmosphere preserves much of the ancestral calm of decades past and the charming, in its own way, indifference of the Province towards the synchronic hysteria of the civilisation of speed. . . . Filip Florian has made a name for himself as a writer-‘jeweller’, as an expert in contemplation and reverie, as a ‘calligrapher’ of nostalgic narrative, and All the Owls provides yet further proof of the appropriateness of such characterisations. It is a prose written in higher delectation, unequivocally giving itself to the reader. . . . Filip Florian’s protagonists recollect and therefore they exist. Moreover, they sometimes give the impression that they exist precisely in order to make possible the mirage of greater or lesser histories, recovered from the folds of a nearer or more distant past – it is their way of certifying the value of their own lives.”



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