"Heading towards valleys of jade and darnel ryegrass", a novel about departures, losses and emptiness
“My writing is built with imagination around a trigger event of any kind. Heading towards valleys of jade and darnel ryegrass makes a plea, through Miranda Dortlof’s voice, for this particular kind of writing, for imagination and construction.” This is what Veronica D. Niculescu said about her novel called Heading towards valleys of jade and darnel ryegrass, which was brought out by the Polirom Publishers this year.
The book was presented as follows: “A novel about departures, losses and emptiness, written with tenderness and interspersed with surprises. A book with a circular structure, embedding a fairy tale made of one thousand lines. Far from her native city, far from her family and far from the one she still loves, Miranda Dortloft has written a rhyming fairytale. The dense prose around this imaginary game reveals the real life of Miranda Dortloft, beginning with her childhood years spent during the communist regime, in a mixed family, continuing with her love story and ending up in a present of emptiness and depression.
Veronica D. Niculescu: ”This time it was all clear to me that I had to write a long story, because that was the idea of the book. On the other hand, I felt like writing long, elaborated sentences, after I had written very short books, which were actually a plea for small things, for being small. When you are small, cuddling for example in a little chair, at the theater, your back at the stage, your inner world could become huge. It’s exactly what happened with my maiden novel. Maybe it’s not the most classical of all possible novels, in terms of structure, its form may be misleading for the reader, but that’s how I feel about it, that I wrote a novel in which a rhyming fairytale was embedded. Of course, when you set about building the real life of the author of the fairytale around the fairytale itself, you end up creating all sorts of contrasts. This is actually what the plea for imagination boils down to, what happens in her real life is completely different from what goes on in the fairytale, and yet some things there overlap. The woman author of the fairytale goes through a depression, she lost her love, she feels empty, she moved out from her city and no longer has a house and a family. But in the fairytale you will discover loads of treasures, jewels and suitors, and a wedding. Just as it usually happens in fairytales. But in her life, all these don’t exist.”
Adeb, Veronica D. Niculescu’s debut book, a short fiction volume brought out by the Limes Publishers in 2004 got the Romanian Writers’ Union Debut Prize. Her next prose volumes (‘The Orange Orchestra’, ‘Red, red, velvet’, ‘The Animals Symphony’) received a great many awards and nominations. Veronica D. Niculescu also wrote two books jointly with the poet Emil Brumaru: the Tale of the Quickie - Quickie Princess, brought out by the Polirom Publishers in 2009 and Chestnuts are falling from the Chestnut tree, brought out by the Polirom Publishers in 2014. The latter volume received a nomination for the Cultural Observer Awards. In an interview she gave after her book was released, Veronica D. Niculescu said she would always have the reader in mind.
Veronica D. Niculescu: “I might sound conceited when saying that I want a patient, keen reader. But I believe this is what we all want when writing a book full of details. Writers do feel a lot of joy when introducing details in their writing. And when they finish the book, they wonder if there will be any reader willing to dig in and discover those details. They eventually find out from the letters and messages they receive that readers did find those details. Which I think it’s great.”
Veronica D. Niculescu is also one of the best translators from English into Romanian. She translated from Vladimir Nabokov’s work the novels ‘The Eye’, ‘Despair’, ‘King, Queen, Knave’, ‘The Original of Laura’, ‘The Gift’- for which she received a nomination for the Romanian Writers Union’s Best Translation Awards, ‘Pale Fire’ - for which she received a nomination for best translation at the Ready for Print Gala in 2015. Veronica D. Niculescu also translated part of Nabokov's stories and the correspondence volume ‘Letters to Vera’. From Samuel Beckett’s work, she translated the short fiction written in English and the novels ‘Murphy’, ‘Watt’ and ‘Dream of Fair to Middling Women’. Veronica D. Niculescu also translated novels by Don DeLillo, Siri Hustvedt, Eowyn Ivey, Lydia Davis, Tracy Chevalier, E. B. White.