The Fifth Impossibility by Norman Manea
Essays on Exile and Language (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

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Deported to a concentration camp from 1941 until the end of the war, Norman Manea again left his native Romania in 1986 to escape the Ceausescu regime. He now lives in New York. In this selection of essays, he explores the language and psyche of the exiled writer.

Among pieces on the cultural-political landscape of Eastern Europe and on the North America of today, there are astute critiques of fellow Romanian and American writers. Manea answers essential questions on censorship and on linguistic roots. He unravels the relationship of the mother tongue to the difficulties of translation. Above all, he describes what homelessness means for the writer.

These essays—many translated here for the first time—are passionate, lucid, and enriching, conveying a profound perspective on our troubled society.


About Norman Manea

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Norman Manea is the author of, most recently, "The Black Envelope" and "Compulsory Happiness," He teaches at Bard College and lives with his wife in New York City. Lyonel Trouillot is a poet, novelist, and essayist of the post-Duvalierist generation of Haitian writers. Linda Coverdale is a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the award-winning translator of over fifty books, including Trouillot's "Street of Lost Footsteps "(PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize finalist) and Patrick Chamoiseau's "School Days" and "Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows," all available in Bison Books editions.
Published May 29, 2012 by Yale University Press. 369 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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This new collection from MacArthur Fellow Manea (The Black Envelope) brings together translations of essays written between 1989 and 2011.

Jun 11 2012 | Read Full Review of The Fifth Impossibility: Essa...

The New Republic

Manea, in his tribute to Bellow, lauds that great writer’s place in America, where “the Jewish spirit” shrugs off the darkness, “finds its new, free, American voice, its new serenity and its new restlessness, a new humor, and a new sadness, and finally, an unprecedented way of posing life...

Jun 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Fifth Impossibility: Essa...

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