Daniela Crasnaru is one of the most prominent poets and short story writers in her native Romania. Once a vocal foe of the Ceau escu regime, Crasnaru was influenced by the political repression of the communist period; but her short stories depart from those of the many Eastern European writers who use literature purely as a forum for political expression. She also focuses her sympathetic eye on the human foibles of ordinary people whose lives are limited by feelings of helplessness and failure. Crasnaru portrays the lives of people so used to hardship that it never occurs to them to surrender. An unhappily married woman waits in vain for a call from a potential lover. A foul-mouthed mother of seven accuses a war hero of conning her out of her life savings. A lawyer is lured to a forest by a dead coworker's stories of a beautiful woman. Those with drab lives use fantasy to endure and those who believe themselves happy are forced to face grim realities. Crasnaru mixes elements of the ridiculous, the fanciful, and the grotesque with vivid realism and her remarkable stories, while taking place in a dark era in her nation's history, are about the human as well as the Romanian condition.
Daniela Crasnaru won the Romanian Academy Prize, Romania's highest literary honor, in 1991, and is currently a diplomat, serving as Program Director of the Romanian Academy in Rome. Her works include Sea-Level Zero (BOA, 1999) and Letters from Darkness: Poems (Oxford, 1992). She has been a fellow of the Iowa International Writing Program, a visiting professor of European poetry in Heidelberg, and a resident at the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy. Adam J. Sorkin has published translations of poetry in American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, Partisan Review, Keyon Review, and Poetry. He is the translator of Marin Sorescu's The Bridge, Ioana Ieronim's The Triumph of the Water Witch, and Liliana Ursu's The Sky behind the Forest. He is Distinguished Professor of English at Penn State Unviersity.