Gabriela Adamesteanu

Excerpt from

Critics about

novel, "Fiction Ltd" series, Polirom, 2007 (2nd revised edition), 320 pages, 130x200 mm

Copyright: Polirom

Translation rights sold to: Palamart (Hungary), Panorama (Bulgaria), Edizioni Nottetempo (Italy)

Critics about

“Gabriela Adamesteanu rewards her readers with this fascinating book, which reconstructs a motley world of interrupted destinies and the maladies of memory, an inverted Odyssey, where the home of which Ulysses dreams during his wanderings, and to which he finally returns, proves to be nothing but an illusion. A novel that is by no means inferior to Milan Kundera’s Ignorance.”

(Carmen Musat, Observator cultural)

“The (extremely high) ideational stakes of the novel The Encounter are surpassed only by the author’s ambitions at the level of its construction. There are rapidly alternating narrative viewpoints (and, together with them, narrative styles), while the narrative tenses blend together depending on the protagonist’s stream of thought.”

(Tudorel Urian, Romania literară)

“Author Gabriela Adamesteanu is one of the most interesting and most highly rated writers to have come from Romania in the last twenty years. Her latest novel, The Encounter, now translated into Bulgarian, has also enjoyed a favourable reception on the part of the critics. (…) What is particularly interesting is the structure of the novel, in which there interweave voices (the main characters’ memories and thoughts) and tenses (past, present perfect, and present), monologues and dialogues flow and intersect, and the story moves from the first to the second person singular (a ‘you’ that is also an ‘I’). And nevertheless, in this uneven, broken narrative (in which Securitate documents and files also appear), the characters become surprisingly life‑like, and the atmosphere that envelops the reader is captivating and oppressive.”

(Vasilka Aleksova, Kultura, Bulgaria)


The Encounter refers to some of the major themes of European fiction after World War II (the memory and experience of totalitarianism, and of exile), like Norman Manea’s The Hooligan’s Return, but in a different way. The mythological level (Homer’s myth of Ulysses, taken as an ironic negative) and the political‑sociological level (the image of Romanian society in a nutshell) are blended in a meditation of emblematic value : the exile as failure and captivity in an illusion. The exile’s communication with the people back home proves to be impossible, and it is impossible to come back, because the passage of time modifies space and there is no more ‘home.’ The same happens with the communication between generations. Paradoxically or not, the only unifying element proves to be totalitarism : communist and Nazi memories meet via the protagonists, Traian and Christa. The very structure of the novel is grounded in the analysis of recent history. This frame of ideas is harmoniously filled in with the exceptional substance of Gabriela Adameşteanu’s fiction : the traumatic story of Christa’s family (this may be the most powerful character in the novel) and of Daniel, a teenager, who is the witness of a colleague’s suicide, finding himself among the suspects... Last but not least, we are dealing with an international novel. The Encouter is like a ‘shuttle’ between Germany (the native country of Christa), Italy (the couple’s country of ‘academic’ adoption) and Romania (the country of the ‘impossible return’). A very modern, symphonic novel designed according to the pattern of an ancient tragedy. Gabriela Adameşteanu actually designs a whole world, her prose happily integrates myth and hyperrealism, a poetic quality and the nature of a drama script. It evolves as a classical as well as an experimental novel...”

(Paul Cernat, 22)

“The travels of Gabriela Adamesteanu’s characters are at once initiatory and documentary. They take us to the periphery of the world, but they also inform us about the world in our immediate vicinity : we discover the world on the other side, which is the itinerary of the characters, but also our own. In “crossing to the other side”, we find very clear images of those on this side. Nothing must remain purposeless, everything must address itself to the people beside us.”

(Cornel Ungureanu, Orizont)


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