At the center of The Hooligan's Return is the author himself, always an outcast, on a bleak lifelong journey through Nazism and communism to exile in America. But while Norman Manea's book is in many ways a memoir, it is also a deeply imaginative work, traversing time and place, life and literature, dream and reality, past and present. Autobiographical events merge with historic elements, always connecting the individual with the collective destiny. Manea speaks of the bloodiest time of the twentieth century and of the emergence afterward of a global, competitive, and sometimes cynical modern society.
Both a harrowing memoir and an ambitious epic project, The Hooligan's Return achieves a subtle internal harmony as anxiety evolves into a delicate irony and a burlesque fantasy. Beautifully written and brilliantly conceived, this is the work of a writer with an acute understanding of the vast human potential for both evil and kindness, obedience and integrity.
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. Angela Jianu is a translator and historian. She teaches at University of Warwick, UK.