Travel Literature

Much of the travel literature about Romania deals with historical or topical social issues. Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy (1987, reprinted 1998) is a colourful portrait of Bucharest at the outbreak of WWII that has long been considered the classic work on Romania. Serialised on British TV as The Fortunes of War, it has reached a large audience with its details about life in the capital in the late 1930s.

A well-known book is Petru Popescu's The Return (1997), chronicling the well-known author's return to his Romanian homeland after defecting in the 1970s and after years living the life of a California bestseller (including a vampire novel) and screenwriter. He returns with his wife, a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, and has much to say about life after dictatorship. His observations are intriguing, though his inflated ego gets in the way much of the time.

Similar in many ways but by far better written is Norman Manea's The Hooligans Return: A Memoir (2003). This accomplished author's return to his homeland in the late 1990s unleashes not only a search for identity and a flood of memories (of having lived in a Transdniestrian transit camp), but also many memorable observations on contemporary life in Romania.

Dominique Fernandez' Romanian Rhapsody: An Overlooked Corner of Europe (2000) is a good bet. This French author made four trips through

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