Abraxas

Bogdan Alexandru Stanescu
Abraxas

Nominated for the Book of the Year Award 2022, awarded by “Romania literară” magazine

Michi Lucescu is living isolated from people and life in a shabby little rented attic room. He allows himself to be carried by the stream of memory, seeing himself walking along corridors of a typical old communist block of flats. Its landings, covered in green sandstone and tiles, like an indoor swimming pool, bring him to the memory of the strange ‘House with Lions’ where he lived as a small boy with his theatrical and suffocating mother who was a real force of nature. This house like a living creature guarded by two stone lions, was close to the old Jewish cemetery, and from it we see Bucharest during the last decade of communism and the tumultuous year after the Revolution. Interjected are his meanderings through the tower block of memory. Michi opens the doors of its apartments one by one and finds himself in 11 old Bucharest cinemas. He becomes simultaneously spectator and protagonist of 11 films about failure and (self)destruction. These episodes, in which he is playing himself or the parts of strangers, take place in different places and moments of History, from the Dark Ages of Frederick Barbarossa’s failed Crusade to a post-apocalyptical time flooded by ocean waters, passing through Jacob Levy Moreno’s Vienna, Ilarie Voronca’s Paris and Delmore Schwartz’s New York. But all these reflections, some serene, some very dark, come out of Michi’s soul, the soul of Man. They are about life and death, love and the lack of it.

The title ABRAXAS is taken from the book’s motto: “This is a God whom you have not known, for men have forgotten him. We call him Abraxas. He is even more indefinite than God and the devil. (…) He is improbable probability, unreal reality.”. C. G. Jung ,the Red Book Vol VI page 212

‘B.A.S. wrote the first great novel of my generation: Abraxas.’ Marius Chivu, writer, literary critic

‘Already hailed as one of the most important novels in the Romanian contemporary literature, Abraxas by Bogdan-Alexandru Stănescu is made up of a multitude of epic surfaces and tunnels. The book is a veritable narrative labyrinth, a palace of memory transposed to the world of literature through writing full of force and resonance, meticulously crafted stylistically.’ Alexandru Oravițan, Orizont literary magazine

‘I’ll just say that this is one of those moments when I’m sorry I don’t write literary reviews anymore, because if I still did I’d just keep writing for about a month about Bodgan Alexandru Stanescu’s ABRAXAS, about the windings and unwindings of the story, about the suicide of the horse Voronca, about the god Moreno and, alas, about the mass underwater grave that is the post-flood Bucharest in his book. About Michi who declares himself as the author of The Adorable Etruscans (Stanescu’s poetry book). About Princess Ralu, from whose lair, nobody could escape….’ Simone Sora, Romanian novelist, previously literary reviewer, post on facebook

‘Abraxas is a novel that any reader can be fascinated by and be frightened by. Fascination with writing full of intelligence, literary and cultural references, with a monumental and complex construction rarely found in Romanian literature in recent years. And fear, yes, because just like in the story of the sacred theft, about the theft of relics by monks, that Michi Lucescu finds out about from his neighbour Emil ”the Christian”, you know that the mystery is right in front of you, but a part of it will always be unsolved, be somehow beyond you.’ Observator Cultural, recommended books

‘Bogdan Stanescu is one of the most talented writers of the new literary generation in his country. Author of excellent books of poetry, prose and criticism he represents the best of the new post-communist spiritual climate in today’s Eastern Europe.’ Norman Manea, author, multi prize winner, Professor at Bard College

‘With Abraxas, Bogdan-Alexandru Stănescu gave us one of the best Romanian novels of the last decades.’ Mirela Nagâț, in the Apostrof magazine.

‘Bogdan-Alexandru Stănescu has written one of the most beautiful Romanian novels of the last years’ Bogdan Coșa, novelist

‘The most impressive achievement in Romanian literature in recent years. Erudite, baroque in places, fantastic at times, this novel seduces with the immense humanity that pours out from its pages.’ Rasfioala

‘With Abraxas , Bogdan-Alexandru Stănescu offers one of the great books of post-Revolutionary Romanian literature, which will remain as a benchmark for the representation of a complicated period, the years 1990-2000 and all that they meant for the young generation since then’ Observator Cultural

And from a year end round up of books, also in Observator Cultural:
‘The book of the year in prose for me is Abraxas by Bogdan-Alexandru Stănescu. First of all, it must be said that this is the most ambitious project from a literary point of view. It is a novel that synthesizes several aesthetics and stylistics that I have encountered in the prose of the last 20 years – biography, the miserabilism of transition, the book, the novel of formation and identity prose. Then, on the level of writing, Abraxas leaves behind in the dust any other prose book published in 2022. It is a book that values ​​literature as a privileged language, that says those things that only literature can say, a book with a baroque architecture, where the construction hypnotizes the reader and that it offers an enormous reading pleasure, but which at the same time goes towards the philosophy of memory and identity, towards the ontological assumption of writing.’ 

Sales

  • Polirom Romania
  • Cigoja Serbia
  • Antolog Macedonia

Material: finished copies of Romanain edition (600pp), French sample translation