By Iulian Ciocan
Translated by Alistair Ian Blyth
The time is the twilight of the decrepit Brezhnev regime, the place, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia: the “Latin periphery of empire.”
A pensioner seeks justice for his dead wife, crushed by a falling crane--the very symbol of the “construction of socialism”--but comes up against hostility from a cynical system at best indifferent, at worst contemptuous of human life. With a keen, Gogolian eye for the grotesque, often squalid, details of everyday life in the USSR, Iulian Ciocan paints darkly humorous but compassionate portraits of Homo sovieticus, from crusty war veterans and lowly collective farm workers to venal Party bigwigs, as each comes to the disturbing realization that the lofty ideals of Soviet society were lies all along. And for idealistic young pioneer Iulian, the biggest disillusionment of all will be the abrupt revelation of Brezhnev’s mortality.
Iulian Ciocan (b. 1968) is a novelist, literary critic, author, and presenter of a long-running Radio Free Europe broadcast about everyday life and current affairs in the Republic of Moldova. His novels include Before Brezhnev Died, The Realm of Sasha Kozak, and In the Morning the Russians Will Arrive, which together form a trilogy of Moldova past, present, and future, and most recently The Queen of Hearts.
Alistair Ian Blyth, a native of Sunderland, England, has resided for many years in Bucharest. His previous translations include The Bulgarian Truck by Dumitru Tsepenaeg, The Encounter by Gabriela Adamesteanu, and I'm an Old Commie! by Dan Lungu, all available from Dalkey Archive Press.