Greetings from the Balkans

Articol publicat in:English | Aparut in:Nr. 17 ( octombrie, 2011 )
What follows is the Introduction toRomania Noir. An Anthology of Mystery & Thriller Short Stories, a volume which was presented by Crime Scene Publishing at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year, and which means to show the world some of the most representative Romanian mystery&thriller writers.


In 1862 a book in two volumes “Misteries from Bucharest” by I.M.Bujoreanu appeared, a novel considered to be the first Romanian narration of detective persuasion. In its pages a society that was still living under the Turkish influence was presented (the complete release from under the Turkish guardianship was going to happen in 1877), but it had pronounced westerly aspirations.

This novel that only the specialists have been reading, deserves to remain in the history of Romanian literature because it has action, unexpected turnabouts, remarkable heroes for the world of those times – corrupt ministers, judges without moral principles, greedy policemen to earn much, practitioners fighters and murderers. I.M.Bujoreanu’s masterwork is rather a thriller avant la lettre that unfortunately didn’t abet in his descendants the wish of propagating this genre. The few attempts of continuing this direction have no significant literary value.

In the period between the two world wars we witness a paradox: although the Romanian writers’ attempts to assert in the detective genre are sporadic and with no remarkable echo, we witness in the cultural pres a fiery dispute, sometimes with pamphleteer means, around a question that some people ask themselves nowadays, too: is the detective story literature or paraliterature? Have the works of such genre an artistic value or are they old papers? At this debate – that did not give satisfaction to any group – have participated important litterateurs of the moment. But some important prose writers – Liviu Rebreanu, Mihail Sadoveanu – have tried with a certain success to propagate this genre. The public went on devouring E.A.Poe, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Agatha Christie’s translations and especially Edgar Wallace’s works, contradicting the affirmations of some people that the Romanians aren’t interested in such creations.

After the second world war these translations were ceased for a time by the communist censorship. And of course in that context the appearance of some inland authors of detective stories was impossible. An excellent explanation of the phenomenon offers Thomas Narcejac in his essay “Une machine a lire: Le roman policier”. In the Soviet Union and in the satellite countries the detective novel was considered like a harmful product of the bourgeois society, a sign of the liberalism and of decay. Like in the fascism, in those societies the right was based on the force and not on the morality, on the oppression and not on the encouragement of the initiative of thinking and acting. According to the slogans of that time, the people lived in a perfect society, in which there were not hold-ups or murders and by token the investigators concerned themselves only about the exposure and the trapping of the enemies of the socialist bloc.

However, at a certain moment, in Romania especially after 1970, the interpretations were resumed. Guy de Cars, Sebastien Japrisot, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Boileau-Narcejac, Noel Calef, Maurice Leblanc were edited in impressive editions. Some writers interested in mystery have appeared shyly, but in their books they rather praised in a slogan way, the militiamen’s stunts turned into some heroes too little credible, because they were afraid of them and considered them obtuse and of illegitimate hardness.

The fact that the Romanian public likes the detective literature proves the great number of translations that appeared after 1990, after the dictatorship decay. Every year the publishing houses suggest tens of titles belonging of some important representatives of the everywhere genre. Of course the classics are not forgotten, who can be known at their true dimension. The Romanian readers are snuffing in the same time the British, the Americans, the Northerns, the French, the Italians, the Japanese, the Russians. Finally, in Romania there is a timing with the literary world phenomenon, concerning its reception by the public and we often have the surprise that a book appeared in London or in New York is published in the same year in Bucharest.

Such an apetence of the Romanian reader for the detective story have had consequences among the writers from Romania, too. More and more of them have a turn for an ignored genre or for a genre that was hated a long time ago. Only now they found the bases of the Romanian detective story with many successes worth of deference, that can interest the reader of everywhere. A proof of the interest this intercession has got consists in the foundation of the Romanian Crime Writers Club, the first association of this profile in Romania.

The events from the Romanian detective stories happen in the country, in the honorable staterooms or in the notorious districts, but also in Greece, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Russia, Turkey, USA etc. The exotic environments are advisedly described.

The subjects are different –from the chasing of the serial killers to the discovery of a conspiracy background of international size, from the narration of some passionate crimes to the discovery of deeds between some groups suddenly enriched, unscrupulous in their attempts to get much more riches. To the fore there is also the painful passing from a dictatorial system to a democratic one. The characters are policemen, journalists who become unwillingly investigators, special agents, judges of conjuncture. Nothing new under the Sun, but each of the authors get a personal timbre. Some are grave, others prefer a more playful narration, with irony and humour. Their language is abstinently coloured. They dispose of modern narrative techniques, following the actions on more plans. Everybody has assimilated perfectly the recipe to build thrillers, already having his own timbre.

The anthology we are suggesting offers an eloquent picture of their literary intercession. The writers from different generations, with different styles approach challenging themes of the modernity, perfect accustomed to the exceptional flourishing of this literary genre all over the world. They confess sincerely and credibly about the way the world is seen from the corner of the planet they live on – in Romania, in Balkans, in a place with wonderful beauties, but with much corruption, lies and iniquity. An ideal place to discover everywhere suiting subjects for the mystery&thriller genre. And if the reader public gladly welcomed the northern novel, it is the time they knew about the accomplishments of some writers from a more interesting part of the world.

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3 comentarii »

  • Tavy said:

    Superb!De unde o cumpar?

  • George Arion (author) said:

    Se poate comanda la

  • Tavy said:


Tu ce zici?

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