Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklySurvivor of a Nazi concentration camp in the Ukraine, Romanian-born Manea, now a literature professor at Bard College in upstate New York, writes with lyrical precision about the unspeakable traumas of the Holocaust and the suffocating postwar reality of life in a totalitarian society. His stories are alternately parables of biblical force, crystalline Kafkaesque nightmares and unforgettable fragments of memory. The tales of wartime evoke the survivor's excruciating guilt upon watching a loved one die, or they examine death itself, rehearsed a thousand times before it occurs. Standardized buildings, trivial values, a constant fear of one's neighbors, and partitioned lives mark postwar communism, the milieu of ``The Partition.'' In ``The Turning Point,'' a few sensitive souls form a secret group, their only aim being ``to learn to think again.'' Manea's shining characters walk with outward calm on the edge of an abyss in a world where the collapse of moral values is a given. (June)
Library Journal - Library JournalA young boy living in a Nazi concentration camp believes that his friend has sickened and died because of her new sweater. When he inherits the sweater, he becomes sure that he is sick and will soon die, too. In another story, the boy watches camp children play a game that simulates death. As a young man, he nearly drowns. With each new story, the boy-narrator grows older, but his obsessions remain the same: the horror of the camps, illness, death, and dehumanization. Romanian expatriate Manea, author of On Clowns: The Dictator and the Artist ( LJ 1/92), has admitted that since his time in the camps he has felt as though he were already dead. His stories, often told in the third person, have a detached quality that echoes this feeling and intensifies the nightmare. These powerful pieces will appeal especially to those with an interest in Romania or the Holocaust but will hold their own against the best in short fiction anywhere.-- Ruth M. Ross, Olympic Coll. Lib., Bremerton, Wash.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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