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Editorial Reviews


"Romania's greatest living writer." -- Andrew Solomon, The New Yorker

Blinding asks much from readers as it shifts between tender family history, Ceaușescu-era satire and visionary fantasies that recalls William S Burroughs. Stay with him: epiphanies and beauties abound in this deliriously ambitious work." -- A Fiction in Translation Book of the Year, The Independent

"...a hot tip for the Nobel Prize in Literature this year.... Cartarescu demands much as he scrambles memory, satire, fantasy and near-mystical speculation, but amply rewards your commitment. [...] Above all, Blinding insists that memory can make a world. 'The past is everything, the future nothing.' From that past – which stretches back to encompass all of human history – Cartarescu has fashioned a novel of visionary intensity. Bring on the next instalment – soon." -- Boyd Tonkin, The Independent 

"As Borges said when Joyce’s Ulysses was published, this text does not aspire to be a novel, but a cathedral...A novel with a strong original voice, a unique flavor, and well-crafted poetic language, Blinding is a delight and a surprise, a major discovery of this year. This literary experience will bring new attention to Romanian literature, a cultural destination that for decades eluded North American audiences." -- Los Angeles Review of Books

"...Cartarescu astounds without resorting to showiness, and the sheer energy and exuberance of his language is intoxicating. What’s more, his extra-sensory vision of Bucharest (and beyond) is mind-expanding." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Fluidly translated by Sean Cotter… the book has a cinematic quality that we don’t so much read as drift through—as in an amusement park ride. What fantastic notion, or iteration of metamorphosing insect will pop out and regale us next? If you’re game for a mystical mind-bend, give Blinding a go." — The Los Angeles Review

"Nothing can prepare you for the scope and ambition of Blinding, the first volume of Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu’s acclaimed trilogy. A phantasmagorical blend of fiction, memoir, surrealism, entomology, war, sex, death and destruction, the novel is, to use its own words, on a 'a continuum of reality-hallucination-dream." -- Bookforum

"It is testament to translator Sean Cotter’s skill that this English version fairly vibrates with immediacy, its jungle-cat vigor apparent even during the book’s melancholy moods. Reading Blinding, the tears we feel on our face are unmistakably Cartarescu’s, and it is Cartarescu’s hand we feel tugging us down the twisting lanes between apartment towers, out to the far fringes of his personal past, whether remembered, reconstructed, or marvelously and eloquently re-imagined." -- Brooklyn Paper

"For English readers, the arrival of Blinding: Volume 1 is a great gift from the gods of altered reality. . . . It is tempting, when encountering a new translation, to compare the foreign author with someone more familiar ... those who reach into nightmares to capture the monsters in our waking lives. Still, Cărtărescu’s scope and ambition, soaring to metafiction and beyond,  surpasses most of these comparisons." -- KGB Bar Lit Magazine

"Cartarescu’s first volume concludes with a spiritual call-to-arms, in which creativity and fertility are one and the same. This vision imparts beauty to this destiny, but there are also intimations throughout of power misused, of violence, of beings struggling for connection in the face of obstacles." — Kristine Rabberman (The Quarterly Conversation)

"Cartarescu's themes are immense.... They reveal to us a secret Bucharest, folded into underground passages far from the imperious summons of history, which never stops calling to us." --Le Monde (France)

"Cartarescu's phantasmagorical world is similar to Dalí's dreamscapes." --Kirkus Reviews

"Gripping, impassioned, unexpected--the qualities that the best in literature possesses." --Los Angeles Times Book Review

"If George Lucas were a poet, this is how he would write." -- New York Sun

"At once philosophical and historical, the novel is full of fresh insights and remarkable turns of phrase. Sean Cotter’s translation only adds to the book’s emotional tenor, since it reads like an English-language original, and it would not be too surprising to see this become an American bestseller as well." -- Hannah Thurman, The Coffin Factory

" the Prague of Michal Ajvaz and the Buenos Aires of Borges, in Cărtărescu’s hand the rooms, gazes, corners, lamps, current events, political officials, ruins, hallways, and basements of Bucharest become portals to hidden, dreamlike, distorted, and yet visceral worlds. Reader, beware: one might veer into them at any second.... Cărtărescu’s prose, so magically transformed into English by Cotter, speaks to the reader with a lush and fruitful honesty. Time and again, he produces imagery you, the reader, are sure you’ve held in the quiet of your own subconscious, mirrored in Maria and Mircea’s own search for memories and images of their pasts." -- Nathaniel Popkin, Cleaver Magazine

"The stakes of Cartarescu’s literary project are staggering. The novel seeks to answer the same question that all sacred texts seek to answer: what does it mean to be alive? What happens to us after we die? The book is as much a thought experiment as it is an aesthetic one... Sean Cotter has done a masterful, inspired job with the translation. The meditative, Baroque rhythms of Cărtărescu’s Romanian flow into graceful, vigorous English.... This fantastic, luminous work [...] has transformed Romanian literature into world and world-class literature." -- Carla Baricz, Words Without Borders

"If Cărtărescu wants to see this chaos as conspiracy, then I will grant him this liberty. He has gained his right to it by the many spectacular stretches of prose that left me dry-mouthed and eyes gaping. . . Blinding clearly endeavors to construct a world—one bizarre and audacious enough to measure up with reality." -- Scott Esposito, Kenyon Review

About the Author

Mircea Cărtărescu (pron: Mer-chay-UH Car-tuh-RESS-cue) was born in 1956 in Bucharest, Romania. One of the foremost contemporary novelists and poets of Romania's 1970s "Blue Jeans Generation," his work was always strongly influenced by American writing in opposition to the official Communist ideology. Cărtărescu is the winner of the Romanian Writers' Union Prize, the Romanian Academy's Prize, and the 1992 nominee for the Prix Mèdicis, among other awards. Though his work has been translated widely throughout Europe, his work is rarely seen in English, until now. He currently lives and teaches in Bucharest. The author lives in Bucharest, Romania.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935744844
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744849
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,243,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Fragale on January 16, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It’s hard to know where to begin with Mircea Cărtărescu brilliant memoir, Blinding. I don’t really think calling it a memoir is really accurate as more often than not it reads like anything but a memoir. Before I bought the book I saw one of the captions from Kirkus review that compares the book to a Dali dreamscape; now after having finished the book that description rings true. The book bombards the reader with so many fantastic descriptions and dream images that I felt like I was being assaulted by Mircea Cărtărescu’s subconscious. Make no mistake, this is a serious, and incredibly talented writer that we in the U.S have been deprived of until now. With that said this book won’t appeal to everyone. If you are looking for any kind of straightforward narrative you should steer clear of this. There are points where he attempts to tell us bits and pieces, really just fragments of what we imagine were Mircea’s so called real world. There are descriptions of his mother and father and how they met and a really long beautiful piece about his mother and her sister leaving their village and coming to the city to work and their adventures they had there until the war. There is also quite a lot about him being sick as a child and being hospitalized and the effect that may have had on him. But more often than not these fragments from his ordinary life quickly crumble and turn into surreal dreamscapes where giant organic butterflies give birth to gods who give birth to worlds and time and space where this talented Romanian writer sits marveling over it all. There are at least two other volumes to this wonderful memoir-or anti-memoir and I will be eagerly waiting for their U.S release!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jwretucci on September 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
I honestly don't like writing reviews very much (probably because I'm lazy), but when I saw that this book had such a mediocre Amazon rating, I wanted to do something to correct it. I know next to nothing about Romania/Romanian literature, so there were probably some things that went over my head. I'll admit that. The person who gave this book a one-star review insists that it lacks a plot, and that's also more-or-less true, but besides the point. This isn't a book you read for plot. This is a book you read because it contains strange insights on every page and some of the best prose ever rendered into English.

Why read a book that doesn't have something that will blow you away on every page? If I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be "generous." It's an embarrassment of riches. The book essentially contains the meditations and meandering of the narrator, along with a brief history of his mother and a few other side adventures. In summarized form these stories don't look like much, but the quality of these episodes is astounding. Cartarescu might be the most manically baroque, obsessively descriptive writer alive. His prose is dense, beautiful, and startling.You'll find long digressions about a seemingly infinite tattoo and Biblical scenes etched into a woman's nails. He doesn't shy away from beautiful details or gross ones. Some passages are pretty, more are disgusting, but all of them are beautiful in the way that Beethoven and Bach are, that sublime, a-little-larger-than-the-entire-universe, heavier-than-a-death-in-the-family kind of way.

I don't want to overstate my case here. I loved this book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alma Brilli on June 12, 2015
Format: Paperback
The writer is a juggler of words and an imaginative weaver of phrases and metaphors for the sake of showing off his talent for poetic language. Unfortunately he is no storyteller and the book is one long boring stare in the mirror, a kind of personal confession without interest or universal message. There is no drama in this book without vivid characters, without true observation of the world around the writer - this sad belly button of his own world. The book is unreadable, no matter how hard one tries.
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3 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. M. on March 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Self-indulgent and impossible to read. The book was never a best seller in Romania, it was the book most beloved by critics, everyone was supposed to read it, because it was "the recommended reading." Many tried, few succeeded, and just a handful liked it. The final book is 1400+ pages of and me, me, megalomania, luxuriating descriptions, and not a single line of dialog. Cartarescu writes beautiful sentences, but the rest lacks. I couldn't finish it.
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