Adriana Babeţi scooped the Special Prize for A Literature without Borders as part of the second edition of the Gala of the Sofia Nadeje Literary Prizes awarded for literature written by women.
Adriana Babeţi scooped the Special Prize for A Literature without Borders as part of the second edition of the Gala of the Sofia Nadeje Literary Prizes awarded for literature written by women. Also at the Gala, which is an Art No More project, the Scena.ro publication awarded Maria Manolescu a prize for playwriting. Adriana Babeti is a fiction and an essay writer, a literary critic as well as an academic, teaching comparative literature with the Western University in Timisoara. Adriana Babeți is one of the most noteworthy contemporary woman writer. Some of her most relevant works are The lost battles. Demetrius Cantemir, reading strategies, brought out by the Amarcord publishers in 1998, The Dilemmas of Central Europe, brought out by Mirton Publishers, in 1998, Dandyism. A History, brought out by the Polirom Publishers in 2004. Then there were The Last soufflé in Paris, 69 culinary recipes, out from Polirom, in 2006, The Banat – an Eldorado at the borders and Prozac. 101 pills of Joy, out from Polirom, 2009. All those books scooped the most important Romanian literary awards. Jointly with Mircea Nedelciu and Mircea Mihaies, Adriana Babeti wrote the novel The woman in Red, and her book The Amazon Women. A Story, was out from Polirom in 2014. Literary critic Graziela Benga was a member of the jury of the Sofia Nadeje Literary Prizes awarded for literature written by women.
Here is what she wrote about Adriana Babeti: “Equally skilled in handling the weapons of epic seduction and those of scholarly academic research, Adriana Babeti is a fiction writer, but also an essay writer of scintillating wit, an academic who, thanks to her sensitivity, exertion and humaneness, has fascinated many generations of students. This year, the Special Prize for A Literature without Borders goes to Adriana Babeţi – because she could find the way for the perfect blend between fiction and essay, with both genres standing to gain.”
Here is Adriana Babeti speaking about her works, standing proof for a literature without borders: ”If I take a retrospective look at my work, here is what I get: I wrote books about the cultural South-East, doing a PhD in Demetrius Cantemir and it took me twenty years to write that dissertation. Concurrently with the writing of that study, I discovered something that was way closer to my biography and to the spirit of the place I was born in and where I live, so I also did research on the culture and literature of Central Europe. So I can say I have no cultural or spiritual frontiers. In my books I wrote about the South-East, but also about the Balkans and Central Europe, in all their fruitful complementarity, but not in an opposition that might exclude one to the benefit of the other. I wrote a book about effeminate men, about those dandy men. But I said to myself I should also do justice to all those mannish women and I think this is the book that mattered most as I scooped the Sofia Nadejde prize, the Amazon Women. A Story. And that’s how I became, at least up to this moment, the Romanian researcher on duty as regards the Amazon women. I believe that, in my writing, I succeeded to go beyond real or imaginary borders, culturally speaking, but also beyond gender and sex frontiers.”
Maria Manolescu published the novels “The Weightlifter from Vitan” (Polirom Publishers, 2006) and ”Like Drops of Blood on the Elevator Floor” (Cartea Romaneasca Publishers, 2010). She took her Master’s Degree in scriptwriting at the National University of Theatre and Cinema in Bucharest, won the 3rd edition of the playwriting competition DramAcum and attended some courses at the Royal Court Theatre. Her best known plays are ”With a Little Help from My Friends” and ”Sado-MasoBlues Bar”. In October 2019 the play that she wrote, ”The Great B”, a cabaret about burnout, which premiered at ZUG.zone Cluj, being directed by Adonis Tanta. Cristina Modreanu, editor-in-chief of scena.ro, an online magazine about theatre, has said about her: ”Maria Manolescu is one of the most articulated voices of the Romanian contemporary playwriting. Her plays go beyond personal stories, to include them into a more comprehensive story, which is often centered around the generation gap in the Romanian society.”
Maria Manolescu tells us more about her beginnings as a playwright: ”It was a very happy moment for me as it was an excellent period for the Romanian contemporary theatre. I made my debut as playwright in 2006, when DramAcum was very active, being an extraordinary group of young Romanian stage directors such as Gianina Carbunariu, Radu Apostol, Andreea Valean, Alexandru Berceanu and Ana Margineanu. At that time they did a wonderful volunteer work, in search of new playwrights whom they were trying to promote. This is how Peca Stefan, Mihaela Michailov, Gabi Sandu and many others became known, thanks to the DramAcum competitions. These competitions offered participants the chance to be read by proffessionals, and, more importantly, the chance for their plays to be staged. It was also a good time for the audience, as it helped them become more familiar with a new type of play, a bolder one, and better connected to the every day life. This was the context in which my palys started to be staged in public theatres. ”With a Little Help from My Friends” was staged at the National Theatre in Iasi. Unlike the period of my debut, I believe we are in a less fortunate period for independent theatre, especially due to the cut in the funds of the National Cultural Funds Administration. However, extraordinary plays continue to be staged, and I think that it would be good for us to be more relaxed.”
(Translated by Eugen Nasta)