The shame of reading in so few languages sometimes leads to me looking with thirst and envy at the thick, juicy novels published in languages I don’t, or in this case, barely speak. This is the most recent example: Florin Chirculescu, who has hitherto published mostly genre work under the pseudonym Sebastian A. Corn, has just published a 1.120 page novel with Editura Nemira, titled Greva păcătoșilor sau Apocrifa unui evreu, which translates to The Sinner’s Strike, Or The Apocrypha of a Jew. And it sounds absolutely amazing. If you click here, you’ll find a review by Mihai Iovănel. Here is a small portion of it (translated by Meropi)
The Sinner’s Strike is, […] a primarily realist novel […](Fantasy, Sci-Fi elements etc. are, however, by no means absent.) Its approach to realism is diverse, pursuing it into several directions (the Pynchon-like paranoid realism, the satirical realism of the Bessarabia chapters which feature Grigore Vieru). Florin Chirculescu is among the very few Romanian writers (next to Cărtărescu and just a couple more) able to craft grand, cosmic-scale plots. More crudely: he thinks big. Whether set in a Romanian hospital ward, in the middle of the Amazon, in the company of Mohammed, aboard an atomic submarine or at 8000m above sea level, his narratives unfold equally seamlessly. The ideas he carefully but never directly folds into his fiction, address both questions which are of immediate and local interest (from the sorry state of the public health system to the sorry state of the political class) and questions which raise transnational concerns, such as religion (in a time of unhinged Islamophobia it is refreshing to read a few pages which display a deeper awareness of tensions at play, although they do no shy away from depicting the violence and bloodshed). The Sinner’s Strike is a chessboard controlled by a strategic mastermind like Capablanca, who is moving pieces, towers, castles, countries, ideas, religions, myths, dreams. And his dreams wind up our very own.
Don’t tell me you don’t want to read this. It sounds like a madder, more interesting Mathias Énard. I dare you. Go read Mihai Iovănel’s review if you can read Romanian. Although in that case, I assume you’re already trying to get your fingers on this yummy book.