cover image Fem


Magda Cârneci, trans. from the Romanian by Sean Cotter. Deep Vellum, $15.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-646050-41-3

Poet Cârneci’s rich English-language debut records a woman’s dreamlike ecstatic experiences and revelations. In the unnamed narrator’s letters to a longtime lover, she compares herself to Scheherazade, weaving a tale to explain herself before leaving him. However, the trance-like memories she recounts, such as an anecdote about knocking over a vase with a bouquet of roses and being struck by the “hypnotic” beauty of the mess on the floor, are heavy on mysticism, and less accessible than the heavily plotted tales of One Thousand and One Nights. Death haunts her, as does her birth, and reoccurring visions of a tall and haughty woman. At the core of her letters is a desire to reconcile the different forms of experience, in “a kind of tridimensional metaphor... invisible and veiled... unfold[ing] in space and time.” The less ethereal responsibilities of life are not lost on her—“I get up at seven thirty every morning, go to work, talk a little politics”—but her visions are ever-present in an electric text of memorable sensations (“Within us is the strange place that coincides with the cosmic, through a profound superimposition”). Full of strong imagery, this heavily symbolic work is a notable entry in international feminist literature. (Feb.)