The Fifth Impossibility Essays on Exile and Language Norman Manea

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
29 May 2012
Yale University Press
368 pages: 197 x 127 x 24mm
Sales territories:

Buy this eBook

You can purchase this title from a number of online retailers:

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 on the subject of exile, he explores the language and psyche of a writer forced to wander. The pieces move back and forth from the cultural-political landscape of Eastern Europe to the North America of today. There are astute critiques of fellow Romanian and American writers, of their political and cultural stands.

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 a writer and how, after more than twenty-five years in the West, he sees not only the bitterness but also the privilege of exile. These essays - many translated here for the first time - are passionate, lucid and enriching, conveying a profound perspective on our troubled society.

Norman Manea is Francis Flournoy Professor of European Culture and writer-in-residence at Bard College. Deported from his native Romania to a Ukrainian concentration camp during World War Two, he was again forced to leave Romania in 1986, no longer safe under an intolerant Communist dictatorship. Since arriving in the West he has received many important awards, including, in 2016, Romania’s highest distinction, the the Presidential Order "The Romanian Star" in the highest level, of Great Officer. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He lives in New York City.

 “Manea demonstrates that he is an indispensable analyst of what it means to be a Romanian, and a Romanian Jew, and a writer, under fascism and communism. . . . The Fifth Impossibility [is] an ample offering of his work, his memories, his wise and acute challenges.”—David Mikics, New Republic

“Engaging, well-crafted, and at times striking . . . timely and insightful essays on writing, politics, and exile.”—Publishers Weekly

“Compelling subtlety and insight.”—Reginald Gibbons, TriQuarterly