In cool, precise prose, and with an unerring sense of the absurd, the four novellas of Compulsory Happiness create a picture of everyday life in a grotesque police state, expressing terror and hope, fear and solidarity, the humorous triviality of the ordinary, and the painful search for an ideal.
"Norman Manea's four novellas, written during the later Ceausescu years, offer a comparable contrast to other Eastern European dissident writing. Instead of the energetic irony, the ebullient absurdism, the sharp-eyed wit, we find a dreamy disconnection, a voice that shock has lowered, an air of sweetness driven mad."-Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
"Mr. Manea's voice is radically new, and we are blessedly awakened and alerted by the demand his fiction makes on our understanding."-Lore Segal, New York Times Book Review
Norman Manea is Francis Flournoy Professor of European Culture and writer-in-residence at Bard College. Deported from his native Romania to a Ukrainian concentration camp during World War Two, he was again forced to leave Romania in 1986, no longer safe under an intolerant Communist dictatorship. Since arriving in the West he has received many important awards, including, in 2016, Romania's highest distinction, the the Presidential Order "The Romanian Star" in the highest level, of Great Officer. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He lives in New York City. An award-winning translator, Linda Coverdale has translated many classic works of modern French literature into English.