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The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir

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The Hooligan's Return is Norman Manea's long-awaited memoir, a portrait of an artist that ranges freely from his early childhood in prewar Romania to his return there in 1997. In October l941, the entire Jewish population of Manea's native Bukovina was deported to concentration camps. Manea was among them, a child at the time, and his family spent four years there before th The Hooligan's Return is Norman Manea's long-awaited memoir, a portrait of an artist that ranges freely from his early childhood in prewar Romania to his return there in 1997. In October l941, the entire Jewish population of Manea's native Bukovina was deported to concentration camps. Manea was among them, a child at the time, and his family spent four years there before they were able to return home. Embracing a Communist ethos as a teenager, he becomes disillusioned with the system in place in his country as he matures, having witnessed the growing injustices of dictatorship, and the false imprisonment of his father. But as a writer, Manea wrestles with the fear of losing his native language, his--real--homeland if he leaves his country, though it is clear to him that to stay under such a regime would be well-nigh impossible. Finally, in 1988, he settles in the United States, returning to Romania a decade later. A harrowing memoir, The Hooligan's Return freely traverses time and place, life and literature, dream and reality, past and present. Beautifully written and brilliantly conceived, this is the story of a writer more interested in ethics and aesthetics than in politics, a literary man consumed by questions of solitude and solidarity.


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The Hooligan's Return is Norman Manea's long-awaited memoir, a portrait of an artist that ranges freely from his early childhood in prewar Romania to his return there in 1997. In October l941, the entire Jewish population of Manea's native Bukovina was deported to concentration camps. Manea was among them, a child at the time, and his family spent four years there before th The Hooligan's Return is Norman Manea's long-awaited memoir, a portrait of an artist that ranges freely from his early childhood in prewar Romania to his return there in 1997. In October l941, the entire Jewish population of Manea's native Bukovina was deported to concentration camps. Manea was among them, a child at the time, and his family spent four years there before they were able to return home. Embracing a Communist ethos as a teenager, he becomes disillusioned with the system in place in his country as he matures, having witnessed the growing injustices of dictatorship, and the false imprisonment of his father. But as a writer, Manea wrestles with the fear of losing his native language, his--real--homeland if he leaves his country, though it is clear to him that to stay under such a regime would be well-nigh impossible. Finally, in 1988, he settles in the United States, returning to Romania a decade later. A harrowing memoir, The Hooligan's Return freely traverses time and place, life and literature, dream and reality, past and present. Beautifully written and brilliantly conceived, this is the story of a writer more interested in ethics and aesthetics than in politics, a literary man consumed by questions of solitude and solidarity.

30 review for The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ema

    Nothing is incompatible in Romania. In 1986, at the age of 50 and three years before the fall of communism in Romania, Norman Manea decided to emigrate abroad, first to Germany, later reaching the final destination - The Paradise, The Other World, The United States. He was to come back one decade later, in 1997. The return visit, awaited with doubts and apprehension, awakens memories from his previous life. Through a non-linear chronology and convoluted narrative, he slowly reconstructs the i Nothing is incompatible in Romania. In 1986, at the age of 50 and three years before the fall of communism in Romania, Norman Manea decided to emigrate abroad, first to Germany, later reaching the final destination - The Paradise, The Other World, The United States. He was to come back one decade later, in 1997. The return visit, awaited with doubts and apprehension, awakens memories from his previous life. Through a non-linear chronology and convoluted narrative, he slowly reconstructs the image of his family and friends, while recollecting the experiences that shaped him: Holocaust, Communism, Exile and, above all, his Jewish origin. It is a pretext to muse on subjects such as language, identity, history, belonging, formation, ambiguity and adaptation. The Hooligan's Return reads like a stream of consciousness, in which memories and thoughts jump back an forth in time, making a tangled ball of yarn where it is difficult to discern the beginning or the end. It is a book for the patient reader, as many things are suggested or implied, without completely explaining everything. It is not a book to skim through, but one which requires the undivided attention of its reader. The convoluted language, intermingled narrative and the abundance of historical and literary details will only appeal to a restricted audience. Norman Manea's erudition shows on every page. He has always been surrounded by books and his memoir wouldn't have been complete without references and quotes from many writers that shaped him, such as Proust or Kafka, Celan or Mihail Sebastian, Primo Levi or Freud. Norman Manea's language What if I am actually living in a language, not in a country? But language is, ultimately, a mere conceited emblem of failure. I admit I had difficulties with the language in the beginning - the writing seems pretentious and pointlessly difficult, which prompts many readers to accuse Manea of trying too hard to impress. I was tempted to file him under the same category but, while trying to decipher the structure and meaning of his phrases, an alternate explanation started to form in the back of my mind. It may not be the real explanation but it worked for me, preventing me from abandoning the book midway. I see Manea's convoluted writing as a reaction to the flat, simplified wooden tongue of the communist period. Under such uniformity of expression, his own resistance seems to have flourished all the more, resulting in a complicated inner language. He basks in this language, he plays with words, he attributes meanings and associations, he denies the simple, the mundane. The result is not necessarily a tactile explosion of words; I have perceived it more as an erudite, academic, conscious exercise. While he perceives the English language not as a property, but as a rental, Romanian language is Norman Manea' country, the ultimate, essential refuge. He lives in the language like inside a snail's shell, carrying it around wherever he goes. To give up one's native language would be equal to admitting the status of an emigrant; one's only ties would be severed. After moving to France, Emil Cioran denied his birth country, but he couldn't fool his origins in the face of illness: Alzheimer brought the Romanian words back on his lips, despite his wish to forget he ever knew the language. Language remains the wound. The notion of hooligan There is only one fertile debut in the world - hooliganism. - Mircea Eliade In his memoir, Norman Manea uses the term not in the literal sense, but in view of its literary meaning attributed by writers such as Mircea Eliade (hooliganism as rebellion, cult of death, death as a common experience) and Mihail Sebastian (hooligan as a dissident, an outcast). Manea sees the hooligan as an uprooted, undefined, non-aligned human being - even an exiled. He identifies with Mihail Sebastian's hooligan: the latter's fellow Jews considered him an enemy, while his Christian friends, members of the Iron Guard, saw him as a Jew, an outcast. He was neither here, nor there. But what was his identity then? What is a Jew without religion or knowledge of the sacred language, without political orientation or chauvinist inclinations? Does surviving the Holocaust, the Communism, the Exile legitimate the Jew identity? Do traumas and initiations allow a person to consider oneself a Jew? How can Jews integrate if neither the assimilation, nor conversion could ever grant them the affiliation to a nation? Their fate, at least for the Romanian Jews, is to remain hooligans. A writer under communism How can one be a writer without being free? Norman Manea remained so long under communism because he believed a writer cannot manifest without the reality of one's country. Our place is here. We are writers, we have no choice, considered one of his friends. Manea admitted he was blinded, too, by the vainglory of misery. Death was present everywhere, but choosing the exile meant the loss of an important part of oneself; it could have meant the suicide of the writer, as well. But, in order to write, one has to be alive. The exile offered a partial, temporary salvation - it was salvation not from the metaphorical death, but the real, irreparable death. And, realizing that he can carry his country with him - through his native language, Manea took the route of escape. He chose to be the undefined, the uprooted, the outcast. He embraced his role as a hooligan. In The Hooligan's Return, Manea assumes the language of ambiguity, the common thread that has permeated his whole life, in various stages of his initiation: the internment camps, the communism and, later, the exile. He becomes obsessed with duality, with the presence of masks. But is confusion the ultimate possession of the exiled? "We know when we've come on a work of literature that alters, for the rest of our lives, how we see, how we understand even that which we may have believed we understood before. Primo Levi's The Drowned and Saved. The Death of Ivan Illyich. Chaim Grade's My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner. Ward Number Six. And now The Hooligan's Return. I am profoundly grateful for this living, flesh-and-blood, yet unearthly memoir." -Cynthia Ozick

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pavel Nedelcu

    Il ritorno in paese, dopo 11 anni, di uno scrittore romeno ebreo che, nel frattempo, ha vissuto e lavorato negli Stati Uniti come professore al Bard College di New York ed è stato acclamato come uno dei più grandi scrittori della Romania dell'esilio. Il libro contiene, nella sua prima parte, la biografia del protagonista e della sua famiglia. Insieme, hanno dovuto subire (sotto il regime fascista di Antonescu) la deportazione in Transnistria. Il rientro in Paese è stato accompagnato dalla presa Il ritorno in paese, dopo 11 anni, di uno scrittore romeno ebreo che, nel frattempo, ha vissuto e lavorato negli Stati Uniti come professore al Bard College di New York ed è stato acclamato come uno dei più grandi scrittori della Romania dell'esilio. Il libro contiene, nella sua prima parte, la biografia del protagonista e della sua famiglia. Insieme, hanno dovuto subire (sotto il regime fascista di Antonescu) la deportazione in Transnistria. Il rientro in Paese è stato accompagnato dalla presa di potere prima da parte dei comunisti di Dej, poi dall'ultimo dittatore romeno, Nicolae Ceaușescu. La seconda parte descrive l'incontro, dopo gli anni dell'esilio, con gli amici di un tempo, invecchiati, trasformati dall'incipiente capitalismo. Domanda che galleggia nell'aria: Era meglio prima o adesso? Sicuramente per gli intellettuali la libertà di parola rappresenta il punto centrale della valutazione. Ma la competizione del mercato lascia fuori tantissimi inadatti. I miglioramenti diventano, per alcuni, solo degli ostacoli sulla via di una definitiva involuzione.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stela

    Care mai sînt conotaţiile cuvîntului "huligan" în limba română, după ce l-au folosit Sebastian, Eliade şi (pardon) Iliescu? Cert, nu cele ale "hooligan"-ului englezesc, irlandez, whatever. Dacă Eliade vedea în huligani noua generaţie a tinerilor intelectuali interbelici răzvrătiţi împotriva falselor valori ale lumii în care traiau, Mihail Sebastian se autointitula huligan după ce Nae Ionescu şi alţi iluştri intelectuali români interbelici îi negaseră condiţia de om punînd-o în opoziţie cu cea de Care mai sînt conotaţiile cuvîntului "huligan" în limba română, după ce l-au folosit Sebastian, Eliade şi (pardon) Iliescu? Cert, nu cele ale "hooligan"-ului englezesc, irlandez, whatever. Dacă Eliade vedea în huligani noua generaţie a tinerilor intelectuali interbelici răzvrătiţi împotriva falselor valori ale lumii în care traiau, Mihail Sebastian se autointitula huligan după ce Nae Ionescu şi alţi iluştri intelectuali români interbelici îi negaseră condiţia de om punînd-o în opoziţie cu cea de evreu. Căci în logica respectatului profesor care a enunţat printre altele celebrul truism al raţei care-i raţă orice-ar face, şi evreul era evreu orice-ar fi făcut, şi n-avea prin urmare loc nici în spaţiul, nici în limba românească. Ei bine, un alt huligan evreu, Norman Manea, ajuns în "paradis" (apelativ ironic al spaţiului american descris în primele pagini ale cărţii), după ce a trecut prin lagărul transnistrean şi cel socialist, îşi caută patria, neştiind dacă s-o identifice cu ţara sau cu limba românească, obsedat de urarea unei prietene americane care-i dorise să se trezească într-o dimineaţă şi toată America să-i vorbească româneşte. De aceea, deşi memoriile consemnează ruşinoasa distincţie a lui Nae Ionescu între evrei şi oameni, menţionează trădarea lui Sebastian de către Eliade, descriu anii de cosmar din Transnistria şi România comunistă, ele nu sînt atît o cronică a nedreptăţilor şi a suferinţelor îndurate de evreul Norman Manea, cît un studiu al apartenenţei evreului Norman Manea la limba română, singura în măsură să-i trimită sufletul spre lume. Într-un stil impecabil şi folosind o intertextualitate fermecătoare ( chiar dacă oarecum dificilă pentru unii cititori), identificîndu-se cu cei doi virtuozi ai recuperării timpului, Marcel Proust şi Leopold Bloom, numai pentru a se distanţa în acelaşi timp de ei, Norman Manea pune în valoare încă o dată posibilităţile nelimitate ale limbii române pe care atît de elegant o locuieşte şi şi-o revendică drept adevărata, poate singura sa patrie. În orice caz, singura care nu l-a trădat niciodată.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Héctor Genta

    Quando l'autobiografia è anche grande letteratura L'autobiografia di Norman Manea in forma di romanzo. La storia di un esule nel mondo accompagnato da un senso di colpa, prima per non essere partito e poi per averlo fatto. La storia di un ebreo errante perennemente in fuga, dalla dittatura del generale Antonescu prima e da quella di Ceaușescu poi: dallo sradicamento dalla Bucovina per finire in Transnistra durante gli anni dell'infanzia, fino all'espatrio nel 1986 in America, il "Paradiso" dove n Quando l'autobiografia è anche grande letteratura L'autobiografia di Norman Manea in forma di romanzo. La storia di un esule nel mondo accompagnato da un senso di colpa, prima per non essere partito e poi per averlo fatto. La storia di un ebreo errante perennemente in fuga, dalla dittatura del generale Antonescu prima e da quella di Ceaușescu poi: dallo sradicamento dalla Bucovina per finire in Transnistra durante gli anni dell'infanzia, fino all'espatrio nel 1986 in America, il "Paradiso" dove non manca niente, nemmeno la depressione ("Non manca niente in Paradiso: cibo, vestiario e giornali, materassi, ombrelli, computer, scarpe, mobili, vini, gioielli, fiori, occhiali, dischi, lampadari, candele, lucchetti, catene, cani, uccelli esotici e pesci tropicali. E negozianti, saltimbanchi, poliziotti, parrucchiere, lustrascarpe, contabili, puttane, mendicanti: tutte le fisionomie, le lingue, le età, le altezze e tutti i pesi"). Manea è l'huligano del titolo, termine da intendere non nell'accezione moderna di teppista ma in quella che fa riferimento a un libro di Mihail Sebastian: huligano nel senso di marginale, non allineato al pensiero comune, escluso, "l'altro" per antonomasia. Un libro che con una scrittura ricca racconta la storia dell'autore e quella della sua famiglia: ricordi, immagini, echi di voci lontane, fotografie dalle quali prova a ricostruire fatti accaduti tanto tempo prima. Non si procede in ordine cronologico, ma per episodi che come tessere vanno a comporre un mosaico nel quale c'è la vita di Manea ma anche la storia della Romania moderna. L'infanzia, la fascinazione del comunismo, la menzogna come rifugio e poi il risveglio dall'illusione, la scelta della facoltà di Ingegneria, la malattia dello scrivere, il rapporto con la madre… un racconto nel quale vita e letteratura si intrecciano e si confondono, perché per Manea la letteratura è vita. La lingua rimane l'unico punto fermo, il suo rifugio, la vera Patria dell'autore, quella che definisce "la casa della lumaca", l'elemento in grado di conferirgli quella coerenza e quella di identità che niente e nessuno possono portargli via. Lettura interessante di un autore che merita un ulteriore approfondimento.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liviu

    Norman Manea is a well known Romanian author who lives in the US since the late 1980's after leaving Romania in 1986; he is also of Jewish origins and had the misfortune of being deported in 1941 as a 5 year old child to Transnistria from where his family returned in 1945. While i was aware of his work and read some of his essays, I never really looked carefully at his books until this year's The Lair (his new novel originally published in Romanian in 2010 as Vizuina) appeared on Net galley and Norman Manea is a well known Romanian author who lives in the US since the late 1980's after leaving Romania in 1986; he is also of Jewish origins and had the misfortune of being deported in 1941 as a 5 year old child to Transnistria from where his family returned in 1945. While i was aware of his work and read some of his essays, I never really looked carefully at his books until this year's The Lair (his new novel originally published in Romanian in 2010 as Vizuina) appeared on Net galley and attracted my attention; I have read about a 3rd of it to date and i am quite enjoying it and plan to finish it for an April review, but in the meantime I got his memoirs, his essay collection On Clowns, The Dictator and the Artist, and his previous acclaimed novel The Black Envelope (Plicul Negru) too, and as I was in a non-fiction mood recently I actually read the memoir. To be honest i was slightly disappointed as it was very disjointed and repetitive in parts, while being more about the author's hurt feelings about his treatment in Romania than about recounting his life. I think it would have worked much better as a novel - The Lair, while not autobiographical per se is in many ways that novel so far - than as non-fiction as it lacks the lucidity of his essays and truly comes as whining and sputtering in parts; the author may understandably and justifiably feel so, but it still makes for occasional cringing reading in a memoir context and it was not quite what i expected after his devastating essays which are so good and to the point. There are a lot of nuggets in there and a lot of good stuff too so the book is worth reading definitely, but I simply expected better and i really hoped for a "naming names and exposing deeds' account of the mostly servile literary class under communism that in large part reinvented itself as brave dissidents etc and instead I got the "they call me names now as before and I am hurt" on way too many pages

  6. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Șerbănescu

    Interesantă mărturie asupra ideologiilor de sens contrar care și-au dat mâna asupra României interbelice și postbelice, din a căror strânsoare au rezultat moarte, sânge, lacrimi, nefericire și exil. Pregătiți-vă pentru o lectură deloc ușoară, atentă, concentrată. Merită, însă, efortul.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annery

    I know very little about Romanian history, and before reading this, absolutely nothing about Norman Manea but somehow, years ago, this memoir came to be on my bookshelf. I've been sipping it since April and I have to thank whatever bug prompted me to get this book. I'm sure I don't know enough about the writer or the times to contribute any opinion of merit but I did learn a lot, was greatly entertained by Mr. Manea's writing style, and here are a few quotes that resonated with me: "Nazism define I know very little about Romanian history, and before reading this, absolutely nothing about Norman Manea but somehow, years ago, this memoir came to be on my bookshelf. I've been sipping it since April and I have to thank whatever bug prompted me to get this book. I'm sure I don't know enough about the writer or the times to contribute any opinion of merit but I did learn a lot, was greatly entertained by Mr. Manea's writing style, and here are a few quotes that resonated with me: "Nazism defined its purpose in clear terms, kept its promises, rewarded its faithful, and annihilated its victims without hesitation, without offering them the chance to convert or to lie. In contrast, the Communism of universal happiness encouraged conversion lying, complicity, and was bit reluctant to devour even its most faithful. The thought police, so essential to the system, imposed a truth serving the Party. Between the increasingly irreconcilable promise and the reality, the field was open for suspicion, perversion, and fear." "Memory must keep watch so that the horror is not repeated, we have been told over and over. We must hold on to identity, shared memory, race, ethnicity, religion, ideology. Having finally landed on the planet of pragmatism, you thought you might escape your past and your identity and become just a simple entity, a Gertrude Stein, the American in Paris, dreamed - only to find that Thursday's atrocities have become grist for the mottoes on Friday's T-shirts, an instantly marketable product for the collective memory." "Suffering does not make us better people or heroes. Suffering, like all things human, corrupts, and suffering peddled publicly corrupts absolutely."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lavinia

    Cind vine vorba de memoriile unei persoane e impropriu, cred, sa spui: "mi-au placut / nu mi-au placut". Motiv pentru care ratingul de 4* e mai degraba pentru scriitura, limba (care e aproape un personaj in sine) & limbaj si nu pentru continut; continut care (divizat cu succes in episoade scurte) se concentreaza pe cele 3 momente majore traite de autor: holocaust (in copilarie), regimul totalitarist si exilul, legate, toate 3, de acelasi fir comun: conditia de evreu. Cind vine vorba de memoriile unei persoane e impropriu, cred, sa spui: "mi-au placut / nu mi-au placut". Motiv pentru care ratingul de 4* e mai degraba pentru scriitura, limba (care e aproape un personaj in sine) & limbaj si nu pentru continut; continut care (divizat cu succes in episoade scurte) se concentreaza pe cele 3 momente majore traite de autor: holocaust (in copilarie), regimul totalitarist si exilul, legate, toate 3, de acelasi fir comun: conditia de evreu.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathrina

    So I made it to around 300 pages and now I want to set it aside. I'm feeling a bit guilty about it because the writing is beautiful, if dense, but Manea writes so circularly, revisiting the same storylines from varying perspectives and depths, sometimes first person, sometimes third, and sometimes, very confusingly, from second person. This book is for the patient reader, and that's not me right now. There's no question that Manea is a gifted writer and has a powerful experience to tell. The his So I made it to around 300 pages and now I want to set it aside. I'm feeling a bit guilty about it because the writing is beautiful, if dense, but Manea writes so circularly, revisiting the same storylines from varying perspectives and depths, sometimes first person, sometimes third, and sometimes, very confusingly, from second person. This book is for the patient reader, and that's not me right now. There's no question that Manea is a gifted writer and has a powerful experience to tell. The historical experience of the Romanian Jew is fraught with suffering and small triumphs of spirit, and I have nothing but respect for Manea's telling of it. The two stars is for my impatience, not for the quality of his skill.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meri Meri

    I formally object to books that are so pretentious and needlessly intertextual just because the author is an academic. I was very annoyed by the author's need to show off. It makes me wonder whether the practice of quotation is a strategy of shying away from a tell-all account and proving the interconnectedness of life and art,which is what the book poses as, or merely a didactic exercise. It must be said, however, was an interesting book and it has a lot of apt comments on life in Communist Roma I formally object to books that are so pretentious and needlessly intertextual just because the author is an academic. I was very annoyed by the author's need to show off. It makes me wonder whether the practice of quotation is a strategy of shying away from a tell-all account and proving the interconnectedness of life and art,which is what the book poses as, or merely a didactic exercise. It must be said, however, was an interesting book and it has a lot of apt comments on life in Communist Romania and Jewish reality before and after the Deportation of Romanian Jews to the Transdniestr region. It is definitely worth a read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roxana Smarandache

    Loved the writing! At first I felt it was jumpy, constantly going back and forth in time and, since I knew nothing about his experience and I knew only very vague facts about the 1941-1945 events, I was a bit lost; the writing won me over slowly but entirely. I found that the jumping in time was a powerful way of showing the pain and the tumult that the author must experience. This book marked and enriched me. The more recent experience under communism and the departure to the US 15 years ago a Loved the writing! At first I felt it was jumpy, constantly going back and forth in time and, since I knew nothing about his experience and I knew only very vague facts about the 1941-1945 events, I was a bit lost; the writing won me over slowly but entirely. I found that the jumping in time was a powerful way of showing the pain and the tumult that the author must experience. This book marked and enriched me. The more recent experience under communism and the departure to the US 15 years ago and the returns, I found many of my thoughts in his.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Really interesting memoir about growing up in Communist Romania. Good for my research. A bit tough to read, due to its non-linear style, but absolutely fascinating.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jose Carlos

    FELICIDAD OBLIGATORIA EN CLAVE DE K La Rumania de Norman Manea era terrible y tenebrosa: el comunismo empezó con una política de violencia bruta y se fue desinflando hasta los años de miseria, el sistema entró en una auténtica bancarrota. La Securitate empezó ya su adiestramiento en el año 1944, cuando la URSS, cerca de la victoria en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, reclutó policías de entre los prisioneros de guerra rumanos que habían luchado, por cierto, del lado del Eje, y que habían sucumbido por FELICIDAD OBLIGATORIA EN CLAVE DE K La Rumania de Norman Manea era terrible y tenebrosa: el comunismo empezó con una política de violencia bruta y se fue desinflando hasta los años de miseria, el sistema entró en una auténtica bancarrota. La Securitate empezó ya su adiestramiento en el año 1944, cuando la URSS, cerca de la victoria en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, reclutó policías de entre los prisioneros de guerra rumanos que habían luchado, por cierto, del lado del Eje, y que habían sucumbido por miles y sido apresados por las tropas de Stalin. Finalmente creada en 1948, la Securitate se cimentó con agentes soviéticos que hicieron las veces de generales rumanos. Por supuesto, entre las filas de la nueva policía no faltaron miembros de la fascista Guardia de Hierro del mariscal Antonescu, exiliados en Austria. Dado que el país carecía de una clase media propiamente dicha, escritores e intelectuales de cualquier tipo representaban una muy seria amenaza para el gobierno, que se empleó a fondo a combatirlos utilizando micrófonos, escuchas, delatores y chivatazos, cuando no se usaba la desacreditación pública cimentada en la mentira y en la infamia, calificando al intelectual represaliado de traficante, drogadicto, homosexual o violador. El jefe de la Securitate, Ion Pacepa, confesó que “controlar los pensamientos de la totalidad de la población rumana se convirtió en el principal objetivo de Ceauşescu en política nacional”. En estas circunstancias tan hostiles, Manea ha desarrollado su creación literaria. Tras la caída del comunismo, el retorno a sus países de origen de los exiliados políticos dará lugar a multitud de libros que, de una u otra manera, acaban por denunciar al régimen totalitario que originalmente los expulsó. Este es el caso de Manea, que escribe desde su exilio en Nueva York, hasta su regreso a Bucarest, la visión de la Rumania de Ceauşescu, un lugar en el cual la felicidad era obligatoria en medio de la penuria a la que el régimen sometía a los ciudadanos. Si entendemos que uno de los caballos de batalla de la narrativa, del narrador posmoderno, es la cuestión de la identidad, de la recuperación de la memoria manchada de elementos biográficos, entonces nos encontramos ante un narrador que ha elegido una clara construcción posmoderna para llevar a cabo su denuncia. Otros dos elementos articulan el texto: la fragmentación y el discurso en primera persona. La voz en primera persona viaja adelante y atrás en un tiempo fragmentado para recorrer los momentos claves del régimen que desembocan en el exilio. Fragmentación, capítulos que alternan presente, pasado y futuro, se suceden para presentarnos un cuadro caótico pero repleto de sentido: la herida que la dictadura de Ceauşescu abre en las carnes de la memoria de Manea, que no consigue superar ni siquiera con la escritura del libro que es, como para tantos autores, la exorcización de sus fantasmas. Manea obtiene cierto distanciamiento y logra que su narración sea moralmente soportable, o que al menos se mueva en los límites de lo humanamente soportable, convirtiéndola, así, en una autoficción donde ciertos elementos que nos presenta no son del todo reales, son recursos ficcionales que permiten realzar el entramado de las partes del libro entre sí y arrojan una sombra de asombro y duda sobre algunas confesiones que automáticamente las revitaliza. Discurso y memoria, lengua y tiranía, van unidas de la mano. Para Manea, la lengua es un elemento de identidad usurpado por el dictador y el sistema que lo ampara, hasta sentirse extraño de su propio lenguaje (de ahí también esa escritura fragmentaria, como balbuceos en un intento de recuperar parte de la identidad léxica). Los comunistas han convertido el lenguaje en una lengua de madera, en una abominación repetitiva repleta de fórmulas sin contenido que tan sólo valía para transmitir con éxito la doctrina ideológica. También el tiempo, o la concepción particular del mismo, le ha sido arrebatado: tras su huida de Rumania, por Berlín, se inicia una nueva era para el escritor, que debe adaptarse a lo que desde ese momento denomina como nuevo calendario. Experimenta un nuevo nacimiento en lo que llama el Otro Mundo o Mundo del Más Allá, alterando él también, como ya lo hizo el lenguaje totalitario, la codificación, buscando elipsis y nombres diferentes y alejados para denominar y definir realidades desagradables o dolorosas, como si los asesinatos y la tiranía (tal y como creían los administradores del Estado totalitario) fueran menos dañinos, sangrientos o mortíferos por el mero hecho de calificarlos de una forma subrepticia y emboscada: mentirosa, en toda la perversión del lenguaje. En esta línea, el propio Manea se denomina como Augusto el Tonto, a Ceauşescu, el Payaso de los Cárpatos, y a su mujer, la camarada Mortu; aplicando esta denominación intenta desvestir de autoridad y crueldad, de minimizar a los criminales que lo convirtieron en un húligan, es decir en un desarraigado, convirtiéndose gran parte del discurso del autor en un discurso codificado, repleto de segundas intenciones y de giros en jerga que, precisamente, por no llamar a las cosas por su nombre, todavía las dota de mayor importancia y las viste con una dimensión trágica. Bien pronto aparecerá una de las obsesiones de Manea, presente en todo el libro: James Joyce como remedio, como paliativo. Primero, el irlandés como recurso, porque el multiperspectivismo que a veces presenta el libro es otra forma de encararse con la dictadura y derrotarla, un multiperspectivismo curioso y polifónico, porque desde la primera persona, desde el yo narrador, se integran puntos de vista y opiniones embarulladas de otros actantes: escritores, familiares, perdedores, sobre todo perdedores. Segundo, el Ulises, no sólo la novela de Joyce, también el personaje mítico, el ejemplo del retorno, del regreso años después, de que eso es posible. La continua proyección del mundo estalinista y dictatorial en el día a día neoyorquino lleva a Manea a alterar algunas realidades para que le sean más llevaderas, poniendo distancia entre su realidad y la Rumania del exilio, a la que, según esa perversión y desarraigo del lenguaje, llama como Jormania y que le permite referirse a ese territorio y reflexionar sobre el lugar tomando la distancia que le proporciona la ficción. Ese término de Jormania no es propiedad de Manea, sino del profesor Ion Culianu, y de esa manera le rinde una especie de homenaje. Culianu bautizó como Jormania a una dictadura imaginaria en un relato suyo titulado La intervención de los zorabi en Jormania, en el que se narraba, en clave de ciencia ficción político-filosófica, al estilo del Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius (1941) de Borges, la caída del régimen de Ceauşescu. Dentro de esta vuelta de tuerca lingüística se enmarca un término clave en la novela, la palabra húligan. El término, con el que se identifica el autor, lo extrae de un ensayo del escritor rumano Mihail Sebastian, que se define como tal, como un marginal, un no-alineado, excluido, un ser sin apego a nada, siempre un disidente. Manea se siente así desde su exilio, por encima de la marginalidad y de la inadaptación, ubicado en algo mucho peor: asentado en la exclusión, fuera de todo, es decir, en el mayor de los huliganismos, ajeno a todo, completamente al margen de lo social. Solamente los muertos le reivindican, únicamente ellos, los que dejó en Rumania y ya fallecieron, lo reclaman, lo mantienen unido a aquella tierra. El término húligan tiene en rumano un significado mucho más abierto que en su adopción del inglés en la lengua española. Así, en español denomina a un hincha británico de comportamiento violento y agresivo, pero en rumano no sólo define al vándalo o al gamberro, sino también al marginado social ya que, en Rumania y durante el comunismo, se utilizó para designar a aquellos que estaban frontalmente alineados en contra del régimen, es decir, los antisistema, los elementos subversivos, alejado pues de la denominación original: el apellido de una familia irlandesa del sureste de Londres, célebre por su vandalismo. Cabe destacar, también, que una novela de Mircea Eliade, traducida al español como Los jóvenes bárbaros, llevaba como título original Huliganii. Por tanto, el húligan para Manea, como se siente Manea, es un ser al margen del sistema, fuera del mismo, en contra del mismo, con un detalle aún más, si cabe, alarmante: apartado del sistema por el propio sistema. Además, Manea argumenta, al estilo de un Tristam Shandy rumano, que el momento de su concepción tiene mucho de paradójico, ya que sus padres mantuvieron la relación sexual en una librería de la Bucovina junto a los ejemplares recién publicados de la novela de Eliade, la ya mencionada Huliganii, y el libro de Sebastian, Cómo me hice húligan, con lo que su concepción parece señalada de una forma sterniana. Y todo su devenir posterior vendrá marcado por este destino, como formando parte de un mecanismo, del engranaje triturador. El decurso del libro no desemboca en un clímax con el regreso del autor a la patria. Esa parte es casi la menos interesante e intensa, ya que lo que verdaderamente le importa al escritor es mostrarnos el proceso que lo llevará a superarse y a decidirse a volver: un proceso de autoanálisis, de recuerdo, de un intento de recuperar la identidad y una conclusión de que la ha extraviado por completo en el exilio. Eso es lo verdaderamente importante, ese proceso que se nos describe. El final es como una separata con tintes de diario: el deambular del autor/personaje/protagonista, Ulises/Odiseo/Josef K, Joyce/Kafka/Proust, también Mihail Sebastian/Emil Cioran/Mark Twain, en el que se ha convertido este Jacques Austerlitz rumano. Norman Manea concluye que, ahora, pertenece a la confusión, que “marcharme no me liberó y el regreso no me ha hecho regresar. Vivo a disgusto mi propia biografía”. Es la parodia del regreso ante la que sólo puede oponer una rápida huida, un retorno a esa Nueva York que aparecía al principio del libro. Esa Nueva York de almuerzos con otros escritores en el Barney Greengrass situado entre la Calle 86 y la 87, donde, quizás, no se sienta tan extraño aún hablando en inglés. Y en el colofón a la reflexión, a la autoficción paródica con la que muere el libro, Manea, poseído por una extraña obsesión, ha ido tomando notas de su regreso a Rumania en una libreta, quizás en un intento de recuperar una parte de lo extraviado, de recuperarlo y llevárselo de vuelta a Nueva York, consigo. Una vez en casa descubre, con pavor, que se ha dejado la agenda olvidada en el avión. El pedazo que anhelaba apresar, con el cual alimentar el recuerdo y combatir el extrañamiento, se ha volatilizado en ese extraño e inquietante limbo que es el tránsito de los aviones, los objetos perdidos de los aeropuertos, las casas de nadie, unas casas intangibles, sin cimientos, en las que uno nunca puede sentirse a gusto, como es la casa de Norman Manea; al final lo admite, su casa: la que se encuentra en el Upper West Side, Manhattan. Nueva York, ha retorcido su universo hasta concluir que se encuentra en donde estaba ubicado ya en la primera página de la novela. Podría concluirse que este regreso del húligan es una crónica de cómo fue impuesto algo tan triste y decolorado como la Felicidad Obligatoria en clave de K, no sólo en un país, con un sistema, sino por obligación, implantada burdamente en los corazones de sus ciudadanos: en donde jamás prendió ni el menor esqueje. Un texto dolorido, cargado de todo el dolor del recuerdo, del exilio y de la brutalidad del totalitarismo. Un texto manchado de sangre, pero también pringado de buena literatura, con una mano firme a la hora de narrar, pero estremecido, porque la novela de Manea se trata de eso: de estremecimiento.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Lipman

    Norman Manea has lived through a lot in his native Romania, including a concentration camp during the Second World War, and one of the most hard line Communist regimes. He ends up in the US, a lauded writer with famous writer friends - and this is the story of his return to Romania for the first time since then. The book’s language, metaphor and wide references don’t make for an easy read; Manea is also self-obsessed to an industrial level, and some question his self-portrayal as Romanian Dissid Norman Manea has lived through a lot in his native Romania, including a concentration camp during the Second World War, and one of the most hard line Communist regimes. He ends up in the US, a lauded writer with famous writer friends - and this is the story of his return to Romania for the first time since then. The book’s language, metaphor and wide references don’t make for an easy read; Manea is also self-obsessed to an industrial level, and some question his self-portrayal as Romanian Dissident No. 1. At the same time his prose is lyrical, his story gripping and poignant, and his erudition an education. He is as far from a hooligan as one might be, in the modern sense. In the old sense of the word - an outcast, a rebel - he clearly considers himself a hooligan and there is plenty of existentialism and even nihilism to back this up. And yet, even after nearly 400 pages of it, I was just left wondering how much he really means it...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mihai Cotea

    Întoarcerea huliganului nu este o carte ușor de citit, la fel cum viața autorului-personaj nu e una obișnuită sau așa cum, datorită sau din cauza vieții sale, crezurile și afirmațiile acestuia, adeseori, declanșează adevărate bombe între exponenții naționaliști sau naivi ai societății. Căci e greu să judecăm, și nu e pentru oricine judecata… Un volum complex, rotund, scris cu cerneală sângerie și cu mult talent, Întoarcerea huliganului poate fi, la fel de bine, epopeea unei vieți. Una ca niciuna Întoarcerea huliganului nu este o carte ușor de citit, la fel cum viața autorului-personaj nu e una obișnuită sau așa cum, datorită sau din cauza vieții sale, crezurile și afirmațiile acestuia, adeseori, declanșează adevărate bombe între exponenții naționaliști sau naivi ai societății. Căci e greu să judecăm, și nu e pentru oricine judecata… Un volum complex, rotund, scris cu cerneală sângerie și cu mult talent, Întoarcerea huliganului poate fi, la fel de bine, epopeea unei vieți. Una ca niciuna și, în același timp, la fel ca a celorlalți. Recomand cu inima deschisă celor care, la rândul lor, și-au deschis inimile, celor sensibili și celor care doresc să mai citească una din multiplele fațete ale vieții. toata recenzia: https://coltulcultural.wordpress.com/...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stefanos D.

    Για κανένα λόγο ή εναλλακτικά μόνο για το εξώφυλλο. Επειδή οι άλλοι το έχουν κάνει καλά έως πολύ καλά αυτά που θα γράψω, εγώ θα το κάνω επιτηδευμένα. Αν δεν σας τράβηξε, το βρήκατε βαρετό, άσκοπο, ανιαρό, αδιάφορο, και τόσα ωραία επίθετα που έχει η ελληνική γλώσσα για να περιγράψει στην καλύτερη περίπτωση ένα μέτριο βιβλίο είναι γιατί είστε χαζοί εσείς. Εγώ είμαι ο νέος Céline αλλά από την άλλη πλευρά. Δηλαδή σε Εβραίος, μηχανικός και γράφω ρουμανικά. Όχι να έχει μισός για τους Εβραίους, να είναι Για κανένα λόγο ή εναλλακτικά μόνο για το εξώφυλλο. Επειδή οι άλλοι το έχουν κάνει καλά έως πολύ καλά αυτά που θα γράψω, εγώ θα το κάνω επιτηδευμένα. Αν δεν σας τράβηξε, το βρήκατε βαρετό, άσκοπο, ανιαρό, αδιάφορο, και τόσα ωραία επίθετα που έχει η ελληνική γλώσσα για να περιγράψει στην καλύτερη περίπτωση ένα μέτριο βιβλίο είναι γιατί είστε χαζοί εσείς. Εγώ είμαι ο νέος Céline αλλά από την άλλη πλευρά. Δηλαδή σε Εβραίος, μηχανικός και γράφω ρουμανικά. Όχι να έχει μισός για τους Εβραίους, να είναι γιατρός και να γράφει γαλλικά. Καλά. Πέρασες και δεν κόλλησες λέμε εδώ. 

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alisu'

    "Sînt un refugiat, pitit într-un colţ al lumii, bucuros că pot respira, atît." "Sînt un refugiat, pitit într-un colţ al lumii, bucuros că pot respira, atît."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pitik Elena

    Inca ma chinui...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Mccurry

    Talk about a tough journey--first, suffering anti-semitic fascism, then Stalinism, in Romania, then fearing being assassinated by rogue forces from your country even after you've immigrated to the US, from around 1940 to 1990. An interesting meditation too on the place of, and limits of, books and stories in a difficult life. Talk about a tough journey--first, suffering anti-semitic fascism, then Stalinism, in Romania, then fearing being assassinated by rogue forces from your country even after you've immigrated to the US, from around 1940 to 1990. An interesting meditation too on the place of, and limits of, books and stories in a difficult life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emir Kaymakoglu

    Bir sürgünün anıları ancak bu kadar iyi bir edebiyat eseri olabilir. Orhan Pamuk demiş ki: "Yeteneği ve yaratıcılığıyla, Norman Manea Romanya'nın en önemli yazarlarından biri." Orhan Pamuk diyorsa doğrudur. Bir sürgünün anıları ancak bu kadar iyi bir edebiyat eseri olabilir. Orhan Pamuk demiş ki: "Yeteneği ve yaratıcılığıyla, Norman Manea Romanya'nın en önemli yazarlarından biri." Orhan Pamuk diyorsa doğrudur.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ioana Adriana

    Mi-a placut pentru ca am inteles mai bine ce a insemnat comnunismul in Romania, si cum a fost chiar si inainte de asta. Am aflat lucruri noi, nu credeam sa fie o comunitate asa mare de evrei in Romania. E o carte de memorii foarte frumos scrisa. Identitatea cui? E o identitate pierduta...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    1

  23. 4 out of 5

    Oletta

    Sobering. A bit pretentious.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Luize

    Exímia tradução de um poderoso romance.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Yeliz

    Bana çok hitap eden bir kitap değildi. Çok begenmedim açıkçası

  26. 4 out of 5

    CCu

    an extraordinary life, an extraordinary memoir

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mpho3

    Manea's memoir makes for very dense reading but is a fascinating account of a Jewish Romanian writer who survived his family's deportation during WWII to the concentration camps of Transnistria only to live through the Romania's Stalinist 1950s and the horrors of Nicolae Ceaușescu's totalitarian reign before eventually emigrating to the United States. Despite the many hardships encountered in his home country, Manea's experience abroad has been one of an exile from his language. As Carla Baricz, Manea's memoir makes for very dense reading but is a fascinating account of a Jewish Romanian writer who survived his family's deportation during WWII to the concentration camps of Transnistria only to live through the Romania's Stalinist 1950s and the horrors of Nicolae Ceaușescu's totalitarian reign before eventually emigrating to the United States. Despite the many hardships encountered in his home country, Manea's experience abroad has been one of an exile from his language. As Carla Baricz, explains in the LA Review of Books, "What makes The Hooligan’s Return such a unique and celebrated memoir is that it rejects its own form in a way that invokes the complexities of the genre. The book does not read like biography. The 'facts' act only as anchoring points to a larger theme: Manea’s relationship to his mother tongue, and the way a writer, especially one in exile, invents him/herself out of language. Indeed, the memoir is as much about the necessity and the cost of retelling personal narratives as it is about the past it evokes. The narrative structure of The Hooligan’s Return seeks various answers to this dilemma." As such The Hooligan's Return is certainly an intellectual challenge. I am not very familiar with Romanian history and culture, but I could relate to his many questions about who we are as individuals, what makes us who we are, and to what purpose. The Hooligan's Return is a harrowing but successful experiment in creative nonfiction.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sever Gulea

    Romanul autobiografic al lui Norman Manea evocă în culori profunde, intr-o constructie permanent interogativa, condiția desăvârșită a celui care a suportat din plin, pe deplin traumatismele unui secol nebun. Prins mereu în jocul izolării și al angajării, al retragerii și al afirmării, nefiind dispus să comită compromisuri morale, Norman Manea conturează portretul huliganului, inspirat de textele lui Mihai Sebastian: specia subversivă de individ pe care societatea nu o poate înregimenta lejer, ca Romanul autobiografic al lui Norman Manea evocă în culori profunde, intr-o constructie permanent interogativa, condiția desăvârșită a celui care a suportat din plin, pe deplin traumatismele unui secol nebun. Prins mereu în jocul izolării și al angajării, al retragerii și al afirmării, nefiind dispus să comită compromisuri morale, Norman Manea conturează portretul huliganului, inspirat de textele lui Mihai Sebastian: specia subversivă de individ pe care societatea nu o poate înregimenta lejer, care alege critica și luciditatea, asumând pribegia, izolarea și suferința drept preț pentru păstrarea unei conștiințe nepătate și responsabile.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

    Kombinerad biografi och fiktion om livet före och efter en brytpunkt. När börjar egentligen livet och vad är tiden i ett vaccum värd? Norman Manea börjar om flera gånger: som barn före deportationen, återkomling efter deportationen, och exil-rumän. En god skildring av fenomenet time-lag.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Holly Woodward

    Manea's life story interests me--he was deported as a young boy to a Romanian camp. But the writing is so dense, it obscures the vision. I wanted more of the brilliance glimpsed in occasional odd phrases. Manea's life story interests me--he was deported as a young boy to a Romanian camp. But the writing is so dense, it obscures the vision. I wanted more of the brilliance glimpsed in occasional odd phrases.

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