Captives, the acclaimed writer Norman Manea's first novel, is a fascinating, kaleidoscopic, and imaginative look into postwar Romania. Divided into three sections–narrated in first-, second-, and third-person voices–Captives explores the lives of several defeated characters as they become almost too much to bear under the weight of endless humiliations: loss of identity, trauma of having survived the Second World War, and submission to the totalitarian state.
This is a moving account of a country shaken by communism and anti-Semitism and haunted by recent atrocities, from "a distinguished writer whose vision of totalitarianism is close to Kafka's cloudy menace, universal yet internalized" (Richard Eder, The New York Times).
Manea's themes and narrative approach are intricate: his style fluctuates in correspondence with the instability of his characters' lives, his story is encased within an elaborate network of allusions and paradoxes. Yet in the midst of the novel's overriding disorientation, the author establishes intersections and uncovers the universal. Through the predicaments of his perpetual outsiders, he offers a poignant assessment of the conflicts of the individual in the age of globalization. He writes with unmatched intensity and a unique sensitivity to the human tragicomedy.
Among pieces on the cultural-political landscape of Eastern Europe and on the North America of today, there are astute critiques of fellow Romanian and American writers. Manea answers essential questions on censorship and on linguistic roots. He unravels the relationship of the mother tongue to the difficulties of translation. Above all, he describes what homelessness means for the writer.
These essays—many translated here for the first time—are passionate, lucid, and enriching, conveying a profound perspective on our troubled society.
O suita de convorbiri incitante intre un scriitor – Norman Manea – si un jurnalist – Hannes Stein – cu trasee asemanatoare. Amindoi s-au stabilit la New York departe de locurile natale dupa „escale“ mai scurte sau mai lungi in diferite tari si amindoi au ales ca profesie scrisul. Cei doi discuta despre trecut dar si despre dificultatea adaptarii intr-o tara straina despre motivele care ii determina sa scrie despre situatia actuala a literaturii sau despre Premiul Nobel.
„Inca mai cred ca unul dintre principalele motive pentru care se scrie este nemultumirea profunda fata de ceea ce ne ofera haosul cotidian. Avem nevoie de altceva care sa transceanda acest haos fie pentru a-i da un sens fie pentru a adauga realitatii o alta realitate: aceea a propriului eu a propriei fantezii a propriei personalitati.“