Doina
Ruști

About

Biography


Curriculum Laboris

DOINA RUȘTI is unanimously appreciated for epic force, for originality and erudition of her novels. Award winning and translated into many languages, she wrote ten novels, including: Fantoma din moară (The Phantom in the Mill, 2008), Manuscrisul fanariot (The Phanariot Manuscript, 2015), Lizoanca (2009), Zogru (2006) and Mâța Vinerii (The Book of Perilous Dishes, 2017).

Doina Rusti lives in Bucharest, and is a university professor and screenwriter.

Polirom Publishing

​"The Ghost in the Mill", to Frankfurt

Amazon

My biography starts with libraries and writers

I was kind of an explorer. I was expecting to discover ameizing things, different from what my family had discovered in the books readed. My father loved poetry. My grandmother was reading contemporary novels, often Romanian. My mother was reading the tearful stuff. And my grandfather chose very diverse books. Besides, he was the only one in the family who even read the newspaper. In this context, I started reading Balzac at the age of 14, in secret. But not a novel, but a library shelf. The broad phrase and solid "masonry" of his novels gave me such comfort that I was convinced that I would not read anything, similary, same beautyfull, for the rest of my life. Balzac was my first love, that perfume that melts whenever you want to come back to it.

Public lectures, events:

Goangzhou, Shenzhen (2018), Gavoi (2018), Santiago de Chile (2018), Istanbul (2015), Barcelona (2014), Budapesta (2007, 2014, 2015, 2018), Viena (2008), Plovdiv (2009), Torino (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), Frankfurt (2009, 2018), Leipzig (2010, 2013, 2018), Moscova (2010), Roma (2011, 2012), Granada (2011), Dusseldorff (2013), Berlin (2013) .

Goangzhou, Shenzhen (2018), Gavoi (2018), Santiago de Chile (2018), Istanbul (2015), Barcelona (2014), Budapesta (2007, 2014, 2015, 2018), Viena (2008), Plovdiv (2009), Torino (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), Frankfurt (2009, 2018), Leipzig (2010, 2013, 2018), Moscova (2010), Roma (2011, 2012), Granada (2011), Dusseldorff (2013), Berlin (2013) .

Education

2007-2008 Stagiu de formare: Story editing, Script editing. Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning (WBL) & Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC). Coord. John Vorhaus. 

  1. Ph.D, University from Bucharest

1976-1980 Faculty of Philology, "Al. I. Cuza" University, Iași

1972-1976 Garabet Ibraileanu Highschool (Classical Languages), Iași

When I graduated, I was 23 years old and I had a starved Chinese face. We was come to Bucharest each month, with different manuscripts, trying to enter a publishing house. Usually there was someone, a goalkeeper, and I could never get past him. And now I have many short prose, that were very fashionable at the time. Also * The "Ghost in the mill" dates back to the same period.

Institutional affiliation

National University of Drama and Film, Bucharest,"I.L. Caragiale” (UNATC), Bucharest. Research Department

Bucharest University

Member of The Writers' Union of Romania

Member of PEN Club

Dacin Sara

BOOKS

NOVELS

Novels

Mâța Vinerii/The Book of Perilous Dishes, Polirom, 2017, 2018

translated into German, Hungarian, Spanish

Logodnica/The Fiancée, Polirom, 2017, 2018

The Phanariot Manuscript, novel, Polirom Publishing, 2015, 2016, 2017

excerpts translated into Turkish, French, English, Italian

Mămica la două albăstrele/ The Adultery, Polirom Publishing, 2013

Patru bărbați plus Aurelius/ Four men plus Aurelius, Polirom, 2011

Excerpt in French

Cămașa în carouri și alte 10 întâmplări din București/ The checkered shirt and 10 other episodes from Bucharest, a puzzle, Polirom, 2010

Some stories have been translated into French, English, Spanish, Hungarian, Turkish.

Lizoanca la 11 ani /Lizoanca at the age of eleven/ Th Green Lizard Shadow, Trei, 2009, Polirom: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

Translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Macedonean.

Fantoma din moară/ The Ghost in the Mill, Polirom, 2008, 2017

Translated into German

Zogru, Polirom, 2006, 2013, 2017, 2018

Translated into Italian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Spanish/ Santiago de Chille

Omulețul roșu/ The Little Red Man, Ed. Vremea, 2004, 2012

Translated into Italian)

Translated work

Zogru trad. Sebastián Teillier, Descontextos Editore, Santiago de Chile, 2018

Freitagkatze, trad Roland Erb, Klak Verlag, 2018, Berlin

Das Phantom in der Mühle , trad. Eva Wemme, Klak Verlag, 2017, Berlin

The Truancy, The Stockholm Review Literature

The Phanariot Manuscript (trans Liana Grama &Andrew Davidson), Trafika Europe, Penn State, University Libraries, nr 8, 2016

The lover (trans Andrew Davidson), Trafika Europe, Penn State, University Libraries, nr 8, 2016

Eliza (Lizoanca) trans. Alexandra Kaitozis, Antolog, 2015, Skopje

Eliza a los once años, Ediciones Traspiés, Granada, 2014 (trans Enrique Nogueras)

Lizoanca tizenegy évesen trans. Szenkovics Enikő Orpheusz Kiadó, Budapest, 2015

Fenerlilere ait elyasmasi eser (Manuscrisul fanariot), frag, trans. Leila Unal, Sözcükler , 58, aprilie, 2015, Istanbul

Zogru, Sétatér Kulturális Egyesület, 2014, prin bursa "Franyó Zoltán", oferită de guvernul maghiar (trans Szenkovics Enikő)

Lizoanca, Horlemann Verlag, Berlin, 2013 (trad Jan Cornelius)

Lisoanca, Rediviva Edizioni, Milano, 2013 (trad Ingrid Beatrice Coman)

Apartamentul 26, trans. Oana Ursulesku, Koracic, Belgrad, 2013

L’omino rosso, Nikita Editore, Firenze, 2012 (trad Roberto Merlo)

Bill Clinton’s Hand, Bucharest Tales, New Europe Writers, 2011, (coord:A. Fincham, J. G Coon, John a’Beckett)

Kareli gomlek ve Bukreș'teki Bașka On Hadise (Cămașa în carouri și alte 10 întâmplări din București), trans. Cristina Dincer, Kalem Kultur Yaynlari, Istanbul, 2011

I miei ginecologi, in Compagne di viaggio, Sandro Teti Editore, 2011 (trad Anita Bernacchia) (coord Radu Pavel Gheo, Dan Lungu)

Ura pri univerzi, Zgodbe iz Romunije, Sodobnost International, Ljubljiana, 2011.

Zogru (trad. Roberto Merlo), Ed Bonanno, 2010, Roma; Catania

L’omino rosso (trad Roberto Merlo) în Il romanzo romeno contemporaneo, Ed. Bagatto Libri, 2010, Roma.

Zogru (frag.) și prezentare biobibliografică, în 11 books contemporary romanian prose, Ed. Polirom, 2006, traducere de Alistair Ian Blyth

Zogru (roman), Balkani Publishing House, Sofia, trad: Vasilka Alexova, 2008.

Învingătorul - antologia revistei Nagyvilag (trad. Noémi László), Budapesta , sept/ 2010

Cristian (trad. în fr. Linda Maria Baros), Paris, rev Le Bateau Fantôme , no. 8, 2009, ed. Mathieu Hilfiger

Cristián (trad. Sebastián Teillier), Madrid, rev. El fantasma de la glorieta, nr. 16/2008,

The begining (poem), in Under a Quicksilver Moon, 2002, SUA, Library of Congress,

Dicționar de simboluri din opera lui Mircea Eliade(frag.) în La Jornada Semanal, nr. 455; 456, 2003 (traducere: José Antonio Hernández García)

În curând:

La gata del Viernes. El libro de los manjares perversos, Esdrujula Ediciones, Granada

FILMOGRAPHY

Director

The Soldier’s Book, documentary, 2018

Umbra perfidă a unei iubiri (The insidious shadow of love), SM, fiction

Ascona Film Festival, 2017

Festival Dona i Cinema – Mujer y Cine – Woman & Film, Spania, 2017

Cinefest, Los Angeles, 2017

GOLDEN BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Moscova, 2017

185 de ani de existență a ANR (Homage to the National Archives of Romania), Documentary

Cristian (written&directed by Doina Rusti), SM, fiction, 2015. Selected at Goa Festival; CineFest, Los Angeles; Corner Cannes; Independent Film Festival and Windsor Festival; Christian Film (Award for Best Foreign Film); Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest, 2015,

National Archives (written&directed by Doina Ruști), documentary.

Romanian Litterature (written&directed by Doina Ruști), documentary.

Writer

Nuns witch (directed byMarius Barna), L documentary, docudrama, CNC project financing. in post-production

Sun Dance (directed by Cornel Gheorghita), documentary, L, financed by CNC, 2015

Treasure naive (dir. Copel Moscu), documentary, financed by the CNC 2015 post-prod.

Servant Greek (regain: Germain Kanda), documentary, docu-drama, Elephant Film, co romanao-Swiss project ORW, 2015

Cream truffles, LM, fiction, Libra Film (Tudor Giurgiu) project funded CNC. Developing.

35 minutes after (directed Cristi Toporan), fiction, Short.

Fraud, directed by Cristian Panaitescu independently , fiction, short. 2014.

Apartment 26,, indep. (Directed by Alexandra Băilă), fiction, short.

Dialogues and adaptation

Miracle at Tekir (directed by Ruxandra Zenide), Elephant Film, Zurich

LM, fiction, 2015 (completed) Award best picture Swiss, Zurich, 2015:

LITERARY PRIZES

Ateneu (literary magazine) Prize for Prose, 2015

The Romanian Academy Prize (“Ion Creangă”), 2011

The Romanian Writers' Union Prize for Best Prose/2008

The Prize of the Bucharest Writers’ Association/2007
Convorbiri literare (literary magazine) Prize for Prose, 2006

Nomination for The Book of the Year Award 2008, 2016

REWARDS

Diploma for supporting National Archives (ANR), 2016

The Golden Medal of "Schitul Darvari", for Literary Activity, 2008

Excellence in Teaching - National Award (2000)

About

"Full of humor in some sequences, in other tragic and ferocious, sometimes fantastic and luminous, like a Chagall painting, which is predominant in this wonderful story [ "Zogru"] is the figure of the terrible loneliness in which lies the human spirit " (Pedro Gandolfo, El Mercurio, August 19, 2018)

"The Phantom is the narrative catalyst that makes secret forces manifest, especially those of a sexual nature, being also the most visible, single faith, dissolved in the last part of the novel." (Markus Bauer, Neue Zürcher Zeitung )

"In my opinion, the confidence, the artistry of portrayal, the exact and original description of the environment, the quest for a subtle epic crescendo, the illusion of stagnation make Doina Ruști a first class prose writer in current literature." ( Nicolae Breban, when granting the Award of Romanian Academy, 2011)

"Extraordinarias cualidades litterarias." (Antonio J. Hbero, La Opinion, 3 01 2015)

"Un’ironica e seducente storia.” (Giuseppe Ortolano – Il Venerdì di Repubblica, 23 marzo, 2012, nr 1253)

"Stupefacente è il fuocco di fila di trovate di espressioni pungenti e fulminanti que l'autrice escogita per descrivere situazioni e stati d'animo della sua protagonista." (Alessandra Iadicicco. La Stampa, nr 1815, 12 mai, 2012)

"Fa il verso ai noir fantastici la brava scrittrice rumena Doina Rusti, che ha dato alle stampe Lisoanca , storia di un’undicenne checontagia con la sua sifilide un intero villaggio, mietendo vittime anchetra le coetanee, salvopoirivelarsi una creatura immaginaria venuta da un altro mondo. Il libro si ispira anche ai grandi romanzi «sanitari», come La peste di Camus, dove il crimine attecchisce più facilmente in un contesto di malattia diffusa. questi sono certamente i modelli." (Gianluca Veneziani, Libero, 18 05, 2013)

"Mit ihrem erschütternden Buch über Gewalt an Kindern macht sie sich auch bei uns einen Namen. Das Buch geht unter die Haut und ist eine schwere Kost. Der anspruchsvolle Stil steht im Gegensatz zu der brutaen Handlung." (Martina Freier, ekz)

"even the smallest detail of the novel is veridical" (Magyar Nemzet, 31 decembrie 2015

"Una historia muy admirable, por cierto, muy bien narrada. Muy recomendable." (Miguel Baquero, La tormenta en un vaso, 16 12. 2014)

Eliade & Doina Ruști


Confessions

My debut book was about Mircea Eliade: a symbol dictionary applied to his work.

It was 1997 and I was walking all over Bucharest, The Ghost in the Mill only a manuscript at that time, trying to convince some editor to publish my book. People craved books – the communist dictatorship had just ended. The publishing houses were translating volumes left and right, launching books just as often, especially non-fiction, confessions, philosophical studies, history, esoteric tomes etc. I had contributed myself to this need of western literature by working at Humanitas. Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco, Gome – these were the best-sellers of the ‘90s. Plus sci-fi books.

One day I entered the Coresi Publishing House, located somewhere in the center of the city. Of course, this time was no different, I didn’t even get a chance to take the Ghost’s manuscript out of my bag. “A Romanian novel?! Nobody’s buying local literature!” the editor barked at me. “If you had anything about Eliade, then yes, I’d publish it immediately. Anything.”

That’s how the Eliade *Dictionary* was born, in record time and written directly on a PC, one that maybe not many people can still recall, a 286. (Yes, you read that correctly: 2). I could have written something simple, I could have blabbed about a random subject, but I realized that only few Romanians actually knew at that time everything that Eliade had written, how his work looked *in integrum*, so I chose to write a dictionary. And we’re talking about Eliade! My novel could wait.

The book was published around the Bookfest of 1997, which at the time was held at the National Theatre. Then people started contacting me. It was selling so well that I had almost forgotten about the pain of not having published The Ghost in the Mill.

Dictionary of Symbols in Mircea Eliade's Work was a book that reached many places around the entire world. A Mexican of whom I have never heard before asked for my permission to translate it and publish it in a daily paper. (https://www.jornada.com.mx/2003/11/23/sem-rusti.html).

The University of Turin was the first that purchased it for its library and thanks to this dictionary I met professors Marco Cugno and Roberto Merlo.

After less than a year, the typographers pirated it. It was sold at Obor, gleaming from the cigarettes stands, but it was really a terrible version, with a red title blinding you from the recycled paper. This 1998 edition is the pirated version. I think it was the most well-spread, as I’ve learned that most people believe this is the year of the princeps edition.

I confess it made me feel good, seeing it so often, especially as I was passing daily by Obor to buy cheap cigarettes.

Others started copying it during the same year. I kept discovering articles signed by fancy people, which consistently included pages from this dictionary. Then my students, the post-graduates, started plagiarizing it. I’ve found it on various sites, compiled, partially or entirely copied. Some even wrote books by elaborating on a few items it comprised.

At some point, somebody photocopied it and uploaded it to SCRIBD . That’s the pirated version, from 1998. I admit, the work of this person impressed me, so I didn’t object, nor did I become upset as they haven’t asked for permission. Either way, it had meanwhile become a book plagiarized to the highest levels, despite the fact that it had been reedited a few times.

For me, this *Dictionary* held a purely literary value, as it represented a way of saying good-bye to Eliade. My first published novel, The Little Red Man, a fiction book of course, had nothing to do with the prose that fascinated me and which brought to a halt the careers of many Romanian writers. And every writer from my generation knows what I mean.

Despite being a novel about the internet, The Little Red Man springs from the fiber of Eliade’s prose, hiding in each of its pages my desire not to write like him.

“I had reached a city. On both sides of the road there were houses, gardens, people walking around. The van stopped and I didn’t give it another thought, I got off and passed by the driver, watching out of the corner of my eye. There was no one in the cabin.”

The Little Red Man

At that time I was considering a sort of deconstructive narrative. We’re talking about a period of minimalism, people were rejecting stories, the classic narratives. That was when I wrote Zogru (2006), a story made of narrative additions, about an immortal spirit, but the essence of this Zogru held an Eliadesque foundation: it is a sort of synthesis, not so much of Romanian fantasy, but of the attitude towards fiction. I rejoiced when a newspaper in Santiago de Chille compared this novel to Chagall’s painting. My character possesses the same naivety I felt when I first met Eliade’s characters.

"It happened after a ten-year break which he had spent submerged at Earth’s core, for whenever he ventured beyond the Danube, he was thrown into a pocket of the world, a place where he would always wake up like after a good night's sleep, cradled by the familiar prattle of the gloles. The return to life was like a rebirth: he felt strong and able to make plans. Curiously enough, the first thing he did this time was to check on the descendants of Scabby Ionita, whom he had left in Bucharest ten years before. And, of course, they were still there. Iancu Ionașcu had become a scribe, and his children were employed by the Divan or working for the princely chancellery. Among them there was one who reminded him of Scabby and Butcher, but who also has some of Painter's artistic enthusiasm. He was named Gligore and was a clerk at a princely kalem, where he kept records of the taxes that the prince himself, Alexandru Moruzi, had set.”

Zogru

In The Ghost in the Mill(2008), I often returned to Eliade's fantastic prose related to communism, for example, the mystical symbols of the *Nineteen Roses* or the mystical-literal evasions from *On Mântuleasa Street*. But I refrained from touching upon that area. I focused on the duplicitous nature of the communist world, on mental unification. Max's face represents the key to the fantastic construction of this novel:

“And then, his pain, flaring up like lava, rose up to the sky through the white, floating corn, like a ghost. He saw it slip through the cobbled alley up to Sile, which continued to weep by holding on to the fence with both hands. And then, like a floating spirit, it flew off by following the same rhythm as a travelling flake, over the frozen road, around the women standing just as still in the mist of the autumn’s end. From among the fig bushes, you could see his desperate, cornered, helpless soul, turned into a bile balloon, sneezing liquid through the broken glass, through the red walls in the still living womb of the mill, so that he could meet his other, happy, warm side, which has been waiting there for 40 years.”

The Ghost in the Mill

It was only in The checkered shirt (2010) that I had the courage to face him, to return to Eliade's Bucharest, the way I saw it and the way I had already presented it to my thousands of students, infected by my obsession.

“It was a thin and poisonous emanation that grew from the fabric of the shirt, wrapping it in a misty terror. The shirt was soaked in fear, anxiety, and there was a sadness gleaming through its checks.

Lori quickly pulled out the shirt, more to check her intuition, and she immediately felt relieved. However, looking at the creased cloth between her fingers, she seemed to notice that within the crossed lines, on the red, gray and white channels, the streams of horror continued to run freely. She couldn’t help it. She needed to check once again. She put on the shirt again, with slow gestures, and she was immediately overwhelmed by the heavy smoke of depression. They were the thoughts of her cousin, a feeling once experienced, a blatant misery that may have gone up at the last moment from Iulică’s soul or from the trenches of death.”

The checkered shirt

When I wrote The Book of Perilous Dishes (2017), Eliade was nowhere in sight. Nothing now relates to him. And yet, here and there I still let slip a nod to him, as I did in the paragraphs below:

"Lipscani Square was, as usual, packed, but from my little uncle’s gig I got a different view of people, smaller and gentler. Between shops and gardens there were winding streets. I tried each one. None of them was Murta but the watchman had heard of it: ‘It’s somewhere round here, young lady. It can’t be far. Maybe next to Frenchmen’s Street.’

At the mention of Frenchmen, the brocade-laden voice of Dubois came into my mind. Around the Consulate there was a web of streets, numerous and short, with so many shortcuts and little cul-de-sacs that my every attempt seemed in vain.

Not far off was the Dâmbovița. Whichever way I took, sooner or later I would arrive at the edge of the river, facing a crowded bridge. What was I to do? I stopped. A captain of the city guard saw how lost I looked. ‘How can I help you?’ he asked. I blurted out what I was looking for. The house, the street, its red tower, and the cat.

‘You’ve put it down on paper? No?’ said the captain in amazement.

This topped it all! How could I have set out, alone, in search of some houses, relying on the memories of unknown people with a tendency to be forgetful!

‘Have you any idea how quickly these people forget? They don’t even know what they ate yesterday, let alone your houses from… how many years back did you say?’

The man gave a disappointed whistle, then held out a sheet of paper that had been in his pocket for a long time. ‘Very well, look, write here on the carriage window and I’ll deal with it!’

‘I always have something to write with on me,’ I boasted, searching through my pockets for my penholder and inkpot.

It just took a minute to set down word for word everything dictated to me by the man, who already seemed like an uncle to me. It was a short text in which I requested that somebody tell me where my houses were.

‘Who do I address it to?’ I asked, respectfully.

‘To Captain Mârcă! Write this: “To His Excellency Captain Mârcă under the bridge”!’

‘Do you know the captain?’

‘I am the very same!’ he announced joyfully.

The man had something grandiose about him. Clearly he liked being Captain Mârcă. He took the paper, and my careful handwriting was still visible as he went down under the bridge, where only now did I notice there was a sort of hut. Before disappearing into the hovel, the captain scrunched the paper into a ball and threw it into the middle of the river.

So this was Captain Mârcă under the bridge. Whoever had a wish wrote it on a piece of paper. That was the way it went. The waters of the Dâmbovița had probably swallowed up so many letters that they had turned blue from the ink.

The Book of Perilous Dishes

Out of all my books, The Phanariot Manuscript does contain eliadesque tones, although it doesn’t belong to the fantastic register. However, Bucharest evenings, the somnolent time and its illusions do indeed come from there.

Doina Ruști

Trans: Bianca Zbarcea

Dictionary of Symbols in the Work of Mircea Eliade,

Coresi Publishing House, 1997

trans Răzvan Tufeanu Livintz

Quotes


Critics


Full of humor in some sequences, in other tragic and ferocious, sometimes fantastic and luminous, like a Chagall painting, which is predominant in this wonderful story [ "Zogru"] is the figure of the terrible loneliness in which lies the human spirit.

The Phantom is the narrative catalyst that makes secret forces manifest, especially those of a sexual nature, being also the most visible, single faith, dissolved in the last part of the novel (the novel The Ghost in the Mill).

Mâța Vinerii - a stylistic jubilation, a vital literature, such as Suskind's Perfume to a point, and Evgheni Vodolazkin's Laur, from another point on.

The novel Eliza a los once años by Doina Ruști has exceptional literary qualities

The great novel like Camus's The Plague.

Lizoanca is a groundbreaking book written in a style refined and nuanced.

Even the Smallest Detail of the novel is veridical ...

Maiorca, ravishing in her unique beauty, but also a little sorceress, the perfect disciple of her witch mother, Tranca, hipnotizes Leun with her Gypsy magic, while heraling him of his swollen nose, caused by sume bad berries, warning him of devilish side-effects. Finally, they can make love in Bozăria, a place where impossible love and magic turn possible. After their night together, his supreme drive will be that of making her a dress so special that nobody can afford, a dress made of the finest silk, fromMalta. Maiorca is however promised to a Gypsy slave, the property of the boier Doicescu. The other men beat Leun with abimalic cruelty, throwing him into the streets. Although closet o death, he does not give up. He creates a document with his friend to prove his serious intentions when it comes to his feelings toward Maiorca. His act represents the greatesty sacrifice on the altar of love, the price of their love is the loss of his freedom. All the other characters try in vain to explain to him the consequences of his terrific act, giving up his freedom, hei s already the sclave of this woman who bewitched him, Maiorca.

A wonderful story, impeccably written.

Doina Rusti is an excellent prose writer, of great talent and intuition;

As regards the literary value of the novel Lizoanca at the age of eleven, I think it is one of the most outstanding in current literature. The narrative intelligence, the fluidity of action, the invariably astonishing eloquence of the text, the shortness, the characters'pithiness, the accuracy of gestures, highly defining within a scene (approached shortly and directly, no introductions, sometimes hardly drafted auctorial reflections) and the way each short chapter enters into the whole - are hall-marks of a great novelist.

In my opinion, the confidence, the artistry of portrayal, the exact and original description of the environment, the quest for a subtle epic crescendo, the illusion of stagnation make Doina Ruști a first class prose writer in current literature.’

... I do not have much time for reading ... but it was enough to open one and I could not close it until I read it through. The other book struck me down, too. Doina Ruști is an excellent prose writer, of great talent and intuition.

The product of a powerful original prose writer, a rara avis in post communist Romanian literature, The Ghost in the Mill is not only a first-rate literary event of the current year, but also one of the most convincingly poignant works of fiction addressing the topic of local communism to be published during the last decade.

The Ghost in the Mill is an imaginative novel, in line with autobiographical fiction, in which magic realism and daily realism intertwine. [...] This mill, which is an axis mundi, the center, the hearth and the obsession of the village, where the character has no clue if he has met the angel or the devil, this mill is the place where a murder occurs, as at the dawn of all worlds: a certain Max, an epileptic, is killed by mistake [...] and everybody is obliged to keep silent, thus becoming accomplices in the murder. We have all been accomplices in what has defined and punished us. This is the parable of communism. A novel with substance, a sinewy prose which, I repeat, equals a part or several parts of Cărtărescu’s Orbitor”.

Doina Ruști has the vocation of a builder constructor, the capacity to build a meaningful narrative and exuberant imagination. If asked to recommend certain characters, pages or sequences from the second part of The Ghost in the Mill, I wouldn’t know which to mention first, because almost all of them are remarkable.

The Ghost in the Mill is, from my point of view, the best novel published last year.

The characters drawn by Doina Rusti are incredibly genuine: the author has the rare gift of seeing things both in a synthetical and a contingent way, including detail within the portrait. The core of the novel is the second part: The Mill, being slightly over 200 pages and exceptional. It is this time-space condensed sequence that reveals the great qualities of the author; these are the narrative construction and the capacity to suggest the texture (substance) of a certain humanity.

Her talent does not necessarily stand for her ability to build phrases, but characters and situations which are not only convincing, but also give you the sentiment of contingency.

The theme of communism suits very well with such a gifted writer, the demoniacal history of the terrible 45 years that Romania has undergone in the isolated space of a village.

Doina Rusti joins the elite of our still youthful prose writers with her third novel, both ambitious and masterful. (...)

The whole construction is remarkable: the epic matter, both dense and fluid, typologically diversified and symbolically rearticulated; the varying rhythm, alert or slow, of the narrative; the clever assemblage and great control. And above everything, an obvious artistic maturity.

The Ghost in the Mill is, without any doubt, one of the landmarks of Romanian contemporary prose, because of the technical clearness of the writing which simulates innocence, the morbid-exuberant imagination and, last but not least, the convincing manner in which it revisits the totalitarian period, with tender detachment, obsession for details and understanding.

The novel [Zogru] is filled with an atrocious realism, showing a vision as veridical as possible strictly of contemporary reality, but it escapes in the fantastic in a way as natural as Marquez’s famous Remedios was rising to the sky while she was hanging the laundry to dry." (Horia Garbea in Saptamana financiara Journal, March 27th, 2006).

  "The fabulous, the miraculous, the supernatural blend with the petty history, in detail, even in the day-to-day life. A substantial and gripping novel, an altogether unwonted presence on the current literary stage.

"The protagonist [The Ghost in the mill ] is indeed a scepter, hidden in a ruined mill, a topos of horror, but an obsessive attraction for people of Comosteni-village. In several hundred pages, the novel exposes the story of a family and many individual micro-narrations. The characters are transformed in kafkian style under the influence of totalitarian system, so that the final section, entitled Two days, is a delta for all wild rivers of life with the flavor of burnt rubber.”

"Writing The Ghost in the Mill in order to exorcise the haunting spectre of communist times,
Doina Ruști marks an interesting break with the Romanian literary tradition. In tune with
international trends, she follows the pattern of ghost stories to reactivate a dreadful past that would not be stifled or silenced. Through the intrusion of unexplainable spectres in the life of a rural community under dictatorial rule and through the central image of a threatening and luring old mill, Ruști manages to create a Gothic novel born out of a history of fear, secrets, betrayal, guilt and broken ties. In so doing, she moves beyond the magic realism to which many writers resorted in the late communist and early post-communist period in an attempt to escape the levelling pressure of socialist realism and the censorship that came along with it. Although her use of Gothic themes and motifs represents a deviation from both old and new Romanian literary norms, which have never really accommodated the genre, the negotiation of the collective past with the tools provided by the Gothic ultimately proved successful, bringing the author high critical acclaim and international recognition. Ruști capitalizes on the genre’s interest in individual trauma and unrest, in the shattered autonomy of the individual, in the loss of coherence, wholeness and in fragmented consciousnesses, in failed relationships, oppression and suffocating anxiety. She deftly adapts the seemingly unlikely Gothic toolbox to Romanian social realities before December 1989, making the most of the genre’s tried and tested disquieting, disruptive potential"

Doina Ruști is the same prose writer of driving force, of a misleading volubility able to drag out ambiguous effects from the most low-pitched prosaism.’ (Gabriel Coșoveanu, România literară, 8 iulie, 2011)

In her novels, Doina Rusti creates scenarios and psychologies that unreel like the windows of a hypertext.’ .

Doina Ruști is a writer who always breaks out from reality restraint, in order to flow, like Aladin, on the enchanted carpet of imagination. Her prose provides all reasons to get confused, and a superficial reader stands the risk to remain prisoner or disenchanted at the sensational level of the topic. This seems to be the case with the recent novel, For men plus Aurelius (Polirom Publishing House, Iași, 2011), a story with literary fast-food ingredients: into a thriller, characters with no psychological depth, an alert simplicity of the narration.

Awards


Romanian Academy Award, Ion Creangă, 2011

Lizoanca at the age of eleven (Lizoanca la 11 ani)

Romanian Writers Union Award for Prose, 2008

The Ghost in the Mill (Fantoma din moară)

Bucharest Writers Association Award, the best prose, 2007

Zogru

Ateneu Journal Award for prose, 2015

The Phanariot Manuscript (Manuscrisul fanariot)

Book of the Year, România Literară, 2015 (nomination)

The Phanariot Manuscript (Manuscrisul fanariot)

Book of the year, România Literară, 2008, Observator cultural, Premiile Radio (nomination)

The Ghost in the Mill (Fantoma din moară)

Convorbiri literare Journal Award, 2006

The Little Red Man (Omulețul roșu)

Ad visum Award, for debut, 2005

The Little Red Man (Omulețul roșu)

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