Norman Manea: Vizuina (The Lair)


The latest addition to my website is Norman Manea‘s Vizuina (The Lair). This is a superb novel about exile, focussing on four Romanian exiles but, in particular, Peter Gașpar. His father had been in Auschwitz, where his wife and daughter had been gassed. He had survived and met Eva, another survivor, and they married. Peter has written one and only one story and had eventually (post-Ceaucescu) emigrated to the United States where, after various jobs, he ends up as an assistant professor, married to his cousin Lu (Ludmila). He had been preceded by Professor Gora. He had also been married to Lu but she declined to follow him when he emigrated. Both men and the fourth, Mihnea Palade, look up to Cosmin Dima, clearly based on the famous Romanian writer, Mircea Eliade, despise Dima’s alleged association with the Fascists during and before the war. All four men struggle with exile in their own way. Palade is murdered, possibly by the Romanian Secret Service. Peter writes a review of Dima’s memoirs and is sent a death threat. It is Peter who struggles most and who ends up disappearing for a while. While the novel deals with many issues, it is above all a wonderful portrayal of the difficulties of exile and the struggle with an illogical and complex world.

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