That is the recently published and translated Romanian novel by Mircea Cartarescu.  I have just finished reading it, and am pleased to announce that a new major European novel of ideas is upon us.  I don’t put it up with Ferrante or Knausgaard, but it is on the next level below.  Think of it as a blend of Knausgaard (autofiction), Joyce (Bucharest filling in for Dublin), and the surrealism of Kafka.  From the NYT:

It is the journal-cum-antinovel of a schoolteacher reflecting on his youth, his mother, his job, his disturbing dreams and his overwhelming intuition that the anomalies of his life constitute an inscrutable pattern.

GPT has I think read the Romanian reviews, and has a good take:

Cartarescu‘s Solenoid is a sprawling, labyrinthine, and visionary novel that explores the main themes of identity, memory, creativity, and transcendence. The narrator, a frustrated writer and disillusioned teacher in Bucharest, recounts his life story, his dreams, his hallucinations, and his encounters with various eccentric characters and phenomena, such as a giant solenoid, a metal coil that escaping the oppressive and absurd conditions of his existence. He also reflects on his own personal and cultural history, his childhood traumas, his family secrets, his sexual and spiritual experiences, and his artistic aspirations. The novel is rich in intertextual and metaphysical references, ranging from Kafka, Borges, and Proust to Gnosticism, Kabbalah, and Eastern mysticism. The novel challenges the conventional boundaries of genre, time, and space, creating a complex and original literary cosmos that blends realism, fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

I have been predicting this will be an amazing year for fiction, most of all fiction in translation, and so far it is off to a wonderful start.  You can buy the book here.


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