Ioana Parvulescu scoops the European Union’s Prize for Literature

ioana parvulescu scoops the european union’s prize for literature Ioana Parvulescu is among the 12 awardees of the European Union’s Prize for Literature in 2013. The distinction is awarded in token of recognition for the best emerging authors from across Europe.

Ioana Parvulescu is among the 12 awardees of the European Union’s Prize for Literature in 2013. The distinction is awarded in token of recognition for the best emerging authors from across Europe.


Announcing their names at the opening session of the Book Fair in Goteborg was the European commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou. “The European Union Prize for Literature draws international attention to fantastic new or emerging authors, who might otherwise not gain the recognition they deserve outside their home country. As well as helping these writers to reach new audiences, our aim is to introduce readers to great new European literature and offer them more choice. “


Ioana Parvulescu is an Associate Professor with the University of Bucharest’s Faculty of Letters where she teaches modern Romanian literature. For 18 years Ioana Parvulescu was the editor of one of Romania’s leading literary magazines, “Literary Romania.” With the Humanitas Publishers she initiated and coordinated the world literature collection “The Book on the Bedside Table.” She is the author of a string of essays that have been reprinted several times, among which, “A Return to the Inter-War Bucharest” ( 2003), “In the Intimacy of the 19th Century” ( 2005) “ The Book of Questions” ( 2010).


Great 19th century Romanian classical playwright Caragiale is Ioana Parvulescu’s special area, so much so that she wrote two critical essays focusing on Caragiale’s work. “In Mitica’ s Country. 7 Times Caragiale”, published in 2008, and “The World as a Newspaper. Caragiale the Fourth Estate”, published in 2011.


Ioana Parvulescu: “There were two happy coincidences. One of them was that I wrote the novel in 2009, the year when this prize was created. Of course, I knew nothing about the prize, and yet, since I believe in some sort of universal harmony whereby good things eventually come to us all, I think the fact that I wrote the novel that particular year did mean something. The second happy coincidence was that Romania was guest of honour at Goteborg Book Fair, so that it focused on the literature of our country, which had a pavilion right near the entrance which was visible all-round, a privileged position, that is. And then, out of the 12 winners of the prize I was the only one invited to attend the announcing session, since the awarding ceremony is scheduled on November 26, right in Brussels”.


 Ioana Parvulescu is the happy recipient of the European Union’s Prize for Literature for her novel “Life Begins on Friday”, a book she published in 2009 and whose Swedish version was brought out in 2011 by the Bonnierforlagen Publishers, with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute. The novel was out from the Humanitas publishers in Bucharest. It marks Ioana Parvulescu’s debut as a fiction writer. The book starts off from the fascination Ioana developed for the flavour of Bucharest, as it was in the early 20th century, a kind of flavour she also captured in a collection of essays, “In the intimacy of the 19th century.”


As she completed that book, Ioana Parvulescu said: “I would have very much liked to write a book about a time travel of one of our contemporaries who from the 21st century goes back into the second half of the 19th century. This essay, a halfway house between a work of fiction and historical evidence, is closer to the form of the novel”,


Ioana Parvulescu: “I made my debut as a novelist when I was 49. And you need a lot of nerve to do that. In the long run, I believe we’re not totally capable to make things work for us, there’s something beyond that drives us along one course or another, and I may not have had another choice, I would’ve written a novel anyway. Writing a novel is an extraordinary adventure because it comes out under the public eye. It’s not that simple to create a world, running the risk of ruining everything. The very idea of writing calls for a lot of courage. Actually I kept on searching definitions of creativity and the best I could find belonged to Paul Johnson, an essay writer whom I hold in high esteem. He was the one who said that it was a matter of courage. Indeed, people who lack courage are not creative”.


 Another risk Ioana Parvulescu took is that she rehabilitated ”the good”, which is something novelists avoid. And chances are that might actually account for the success Ioana Parvulescu’s books have enjoyed with her readership.


“It’s so very hard to do that and this is precisely why I do it. It’s much easier, more so today than before, to shock everyone, to attract by placing the evil in the foreground. The good has become almost forbidden in literature. “Good forbidden”, that’s what is written on the best novels. My novels are meant for a multi-layered reading. At one level the reading should run very easily, because mine are action novels. There are other layers as well, for the more astute readers, and I am glad those layers are also visible. On the other hand, were I to choose between Alexandre Dumas and James Joyce, I‘d rather be Dumas. And that’s because a quality action novel reaches more readers, and in a way I find it more pleasant.”


 Ioana Parvulescu’s latest release is “Life Begins on Friday”, a novel the Humanitas Publishers in Bucharest brought out in 2012.
Publicat: 2013-10-12 12:21:00
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