cover image Hotel Europa

Hotel Europa

Dumitru Tsepeneag, trans. from the Romanian by Patrick Camiller, Dalkey Archive, $16.95 paper (488p) ISBN 978-1-56478-570-1

Overstuffed with characters, history, and ideas, this oddly listless novel is a long, daunting ride not quite worth the price of admission. It's just after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu, and the unnamed narrator—a Romanian novelist living in Paris with his French wife, Marianne, and their very intelligent cat—is writing a book that just might be this very book. Between stints of writing, the narrator travels and "meets" some of the book's characters, most prominently Ion, a Romanian university student with a penchant for pontificating on Romanian identity and who, after having been arrested during demonstrations against Ceausescu, is freed and travels through Europe. All the while, the narrator sometimes writes and sometimes avoids writing his book. At one point, Marianne says to the narrator, "Only the reader's curiosity can save the novelist" and while Tsepeneag (Pigeon Post) does much to whet the reader's curiosity, he doesn't do nearly enough to satisfy it. (Nov.)