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#3 The Days of The King; Filip Florian

title: The Days of The King/ Zilele regelui  
author: Filip Florian
year: 2008
language: Romanian

I innocently wonder how many innocent readers of this post know what "Bucharest" is and what's more how many dare to ponder over its location. I will not whine about our border culture or about American news agencies confusing Budapest with Bucharest. I will just get to the story only stopping to add that the books has all chances to be [eventually] translated into a few European languages and probably be released into the US too.

In 1866 a young monarch dares to take the crown of the newly formed Romanian United Principalities. He had to travel incognito from Berlin to Bucharest where he found a country completely different from his native one, a country that never had a foreign king or railways. The thing about this book, however, is that it doesn't tell the story of the king, not directly at least, but of his dentist - a young catholic german who is also forced to move to Bucharest.

It's hard to explain the culture clash to someone who hasn't visited Romania, it's easy to explain why the novel is praised as one of the best to come since '89.

For once it has a cat that writes suave love-letters as a characters, a contagious sense of humor and a good douse of historical accuracy and interesting historical details. Enough to give you hope that there are books out there that are just different from everything you've read.

I will not praise the book any more, as I've already read so many reviews in its favor and I'd really want to get to finish an other book before bedtime. I will however dare
you, if you had enough patience to read until this point, to read a book that's different. Get out of your comfort zone and read a contemporary novel by someone who's name you can't pronounce. You will not regret it.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
I suppose the problem is reading Romanian at this point, for there is but one translation of the author I could find.

While it sounds interesting (and I will keep an eye out), I'm more curious how the author's name is pronounced, assuming that my German reading is wrong ;) And uh, East Europe is indeed kind of my blind point as far as historical developments go, at least if they did not have a direct influence on the West. Closest to what I've read so far was The Historian (which was at least entertaining).
Nov. 13th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
The Historian says absolutely nothing about East-European literature.
By the way, wasn't there a movie on it? at some point I think I saw a trailer.

It's just hard to become known when creating in a language spoken by only around 25 million people, the translation is always just a translation.
Nov. 13th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oh no, of course not. I was reading The Historian for entertainment, not for learning anything about East European Literature ;) It was just the most recent piece I read that dealt much with East Europe at all (a partly contemporary East Europe, that is) And I don't know about a movie, there might have been plans but *shrug*

Hm, yes, I agree on translations. It's part of the reason why I'm reading English Language books in English rather than the German translation. But I don't think I will take to learning Romanian, sorry ^^; Being bilingual is enough for now, plus the odd fragments of French needed to not starve *g*
Nov. 12th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
Dude: Bucharest - Romania; Budapest - Hungary. Not too hard to differentiate (though I might have an upside in that I've got a friend from Bucharest, but...).

So this is an adult-type novel, with a love-letter-writing cat, eh? That right there is enough for me to look for a translation XP

Out of curiosity, is the author's name pronounced using Latin phonetics?
Nov. 13th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
yes, you pronounce Filip like Philip and Florian like the Latin "floris" only with "an" -like an egg- instead of s at the end.

You'd be surprise how many times people get the two cities mixed up.
Nov. 13th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
So I would have pronounced the name right, good :) (granted, not being anglophone helps immensely often enough)

And I'm not surprised how many people get the cities mixed up. Problem is that East Europe is a white spot in the maps of most minds. And I'm not excluding myself completely although I do have an idea of where the bigger cities belong and have at least an idea about the history since 1870. Generally though? Not enough sources, not enough literature and definitely way too little about it in history class.
Nov. 13th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
I'm sure this is why there was such a lag time before they started marketing Andrzei Sapkowski's books in the UK.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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