The Days of the King

Filip Florian, Author, Alistair Ian Blyth, Translator
Filip Florian, trans. from the Romanian by Alistair Ian Blyth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22 (208p) ISBN 978-0-547-38835-9
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Blyth spins out Florian's second novel (after Little Fingers) in sinuous prose, and its elaborations, turns, and sheer sentence length render well the political and social machinations of 1866 Bucharest, whose multiethnic population convulses in forging a modern state—and Prince Karl of Hohenzollern has recruited Berliner dentist Joseph Strauss to attend to him (and his decayed molar) on his ascent to the throne of Romania. Joseph begins life anew there, hiding much of his past from his wife, Elena, and keeping secrets about Prince Karl that only the dentist and his loyal cat, Siegfried, know. Though readers come to know this strange time and place, there are pages of summary that prevent a full involvement with some of Joseph and Prince Karl's most vital experiences—or even their dialogue. Perhaps it's testament to the story's sharp humor and crisp voice—even those amorous passages narrated by the cat—that the reader lingers in each scene, sharing them with the characters moment-by-moment. (Aug.)
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