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Un dulce week-end cu Petru Popescu la Montreal

Dupŕ o recenzie a cârtii Oaza la Montreal Jewish Library in noiembrie 2003, ARC a reusit, dupa un an de zbateri aproape zadarnice, sa-l atragâ pe Petru Popescu din nou la Montreal, de data asta pentru comunitatea româneascâ, mai mult sau mai putzin neaosâ, mai mult sau mai putin solidarâ.

Da, chair el, SCRIITORUL Petru Popescu, o nâlucâ a tineretii noastre, a baby-boomers lepadati de nesansâ in comunismul ceausist, personificarea iluziilor frumosilor ani intr-un Bucuresti ametit de praf, tinerete, fum de tigarâ si vise de a fugi din tarâ. Da, Petru Popescu care ne-a arâtat cum se face, care a avut SANSA si curajul sa fugâ în 1974 si, care a reusit sa se consacre in literatura si cinematografia americanâ in pofida asteptârilor si a blestemului ancestral ceausist : vedeti voi pe dracu' la capitalisti !

Da, Petru Popescu, care a putut publica in România ceausistâ Sfirsitul bahic si a fugit în plinâ glorie a dat un exemplu, a tras un semnal de alarmâ. Nu numai câ a fugit, dar a si reusit in USA în arta cuvîntului, un Kundera al românilor...Ce alt domeniu e mai greu de cucerit ca imigrant decît arta complexâ si subtilâ a cuvîntul ??

Cu toate câ PP e centrul unei continue polemici, fiind «prins» intre publicul neavizat care îl adorâ si lumea exilata sau neexilatâ a literelor care îl calomniazâ, nimeni nu-i poate contesta talentul absolut iesit din comun, nici târia de caracter si munca asiduâ care i-a adus succesul in tara lui adoptivâ.

Pentru cititorii tineri care au avut nesansa sâ-l piardâ pe Popescu ca sciitor român, iata o trecere în revistâ a principalelor sale realizâri, o lume a cârtii aparte, pasionatâ, diversificatâ si evolutivâ :

- Prins, o carte citadinâ, îmbîcsitâ de dragostea pentru Bucuresti anilor 1970 , cartea unui visâtor constrîns de spatiul emotif si fizic al acelorasi ani, câutînd sâ evadeze în universuri interioare, implicite

- Dulce, o carte luminoasâ, proaspâtâ, ca cei 20 ani ai eroului, debordînd de experiente noi, prieteni buni, iubiri profunde, într-o ambiantâ balansatâ între armatâ si permisiuni îmbibate de miresmele bucurestene

- Sfirsitul bahic, apogeu al talentului scriitorului in limba românâ,
o carte feliniana, puternic dizidentâ,o parabolâ brutalâ a vietii unui tînâr exclus din partid, o frescâ scabroasâ a nomenclaturii redatâ pe fundalul stabilitâtii si a inteligentei a douâ popoare, evreii, retrasi, taciturni, de o umanitate caldâ si blîndâ, târanii români, statornici, neclintiti, isteti si detasati…

- Almost Adam – o carte f. îndrâzneatâ, inteligent scrisâ, documentatâ, veridicâ, intr-un stil alert, pasionant si elevat, o carte de mare succes

Dear members of the prize-awarding committee,
We are writing this on behalf of the Jewish Public Library of the City of Montreal, Canada, the largest such library in all of North America, and on behalf of the Romanian community of the Jewish and other faiths resident in Montreal. That community, again, is the largest Romanian community in North America, perhaps anywhere in the world outside of Romania.
Being very supportive of the prestigious work that you are doing, we would like to suggest that the Dan David yearly awards should include a yearly literary prize as well. Literature is still a powerful influence in the world. The messages that your foundation are promoting are the same as those of good, humanitarian, altruistic literature. We would like to suggest that, if an award for literary accomplishment is created, you should first reward the work and civic merits of Petru Popescu, the best known Romanian author writing in English, after he was in the 1963-1973 decade the most outspoken and innovative writer in Communist Romania. His work was very popular, but his constant conflicts with the Communist censorship finally forced him to escape to England and then to the the United States.
Burial of the Vine ( Sfarsitul Bahic ), his most rebellious Romanian novel, was translated into English, to excellent reviews. The novel recounts how a young unorthodox Communist is excluded from the Party, and then finds work as a clerk in Bucharest's Jewish Cemetery. The portrayal of Jews intent to keep their faith alive under Communism was so moving and sympathetic, that the book was a bestseller in Romania, adding more reason for the authorities to eventually ban it.
When Popescu escaped, he was tried in absentia, and his books and movies were withdrawn from bookstores and libraries and destroyed.
This was the author who later became a writer in English in the United States. A bestselling author and scriptwriter, yet a distinctive thinker on themes of moral choice and life's meaning in our current confused society.
A selective bio of his work in the United States follows.
To present the unusual merits of this author, we'd like to submit the books The Oasis, The Return, and Amazon Beaming to the attention of the committee. The film Nobody's Children, starrring Ann-Margret and Dominique Sanda, and presenting the oplight of the unwanted orphans of Romania after the revolution is available in videotape.
The Oasis, based on the true love story of his own inlaws, who met and courted in a Nazi concentration camp, was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award 2002. On its cover, the book, published by St. Martin's Press of New Yorkl, carrried glowing endorsements from Nobel-prize winner Elie Wiesel, and Pulitzer-prize winner William Styron.
The Return, a portrayal of Romania after Communism, written after Popescu's first trip to Romania after 18 years of exile ( published by New York's Grove/Atlantic Press ), was written after Popescu's first trip to Romania after 18 years of exile. The Return is perhaps the single most admired book dealing with the aftermath of Communism, and its effects on society and the artist's consciousness.
The third book in our presentation is Amazon Beaming, an international best seller recounting the captivating heart-pulsing adventure of an exploration in Amazonia, dealing at length with ecology and the survival of native Indian tribes. In the US it was published by Viking Penguin ( in Italy, under the title Dove Comincia il Tiempo, it was published by Corbacio, Milano, and it enjoyed four reprints ).
Bio :
Petru Popescu grew up in Romania, youngest dissident novelist/filmscripter of Soviet bloc, invited to Iowa Workshop by John Cheever, defected, had books and films burned by Ceausescu regime.
Graduated American Film Institute 1978. Wrote first script in English : Peter Weir's The Last Wave.
Continued to write feature films and television, for Universal, Paramount, Fox, United Artists, CBS, NBC. Worked in genres as diverse as psychological drama ( Obsessive Love, CBS), political thriller ( Bug Jack Barron, Universal ), horror, ( Friday 13th, Paramount), art film ( Death of An Angel, Fox Classics, which he also directed ).
Death of an Angel, based on a yet unpublished novel, was singled out by Robert Redford, the founder of the Sundance Institute Workshop, as best script for the year 1983. Redford's Sundance and Angeles Films financed the movie, 20th Century Fox distributed. Popescu started to divide time between film and books. Published Amazon Beaming, Viking Penguin, 1991, excellent reviews, translated in all of Europe and South America.
Published Almost Adam, Morrow/Avon, 1996. New York Times bestseller, published in 20 foreign languages including Spanish, German, Greek, Japanese, Hebrew, Chinese, French. Michael London ( producer of the currently admired feature Sideways ) bought Adam film rights for 20th Century Fox, hired author to write screenplay. Property in development at Fox, director Ridley Scott attached to direct.
The Return, an autobiography, Grove Atlantic. Recounting author's leap from Communism to Hollywood and first visit to Romania after fall of Communism. William Styron endorsed the book as "rich and fascinating... I was engrossed from beginning to end." Pulitzer-prize winning poet John Ashbery called it "savagely funny."
Nobody's Children, feature film about the unwanted orphans of Romania, starring Ann-Margret, produced by Henry Winkler/USA Pictures. Popescu wrote script, based upon an ample reportage he published in the Los Angeles Times in 1992, after his first visit back to Romania, and extensive time soent among the "unwanted orphans" at the orphans' home of Nicoresti.
The Oasis, a true story about young love in a concentration camp. The protagonists were Popescu's own inlaws, whom Popescu interviewed extensively during 2 years of research. Elie Wiesel endorsed the book as a "poignant and remarkable Holocaust memoir... filled with love." Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. The Oasis was optioned as a feature by Snowmass Productions and Popescu was hired to write script.
Of all of Popescu's books, only The Return hasn't been optioned or sold in Hollywood.
Popescu created free Romania's lobby in Washington D.C., and was its senior consultant from 1993 to 1996.
He is currently at work on his latest novel, titled The Weregirls. Popescu lives in Beverly Hills, California, with his wife Iris and children Chloe and Adam.
We believe that, were he to be rewarded with a literary prize from the Dan David foundation, your foundation would be acknowledging not only an outstanding author, but as Mr. David also stems from Romania, he would be acknowledging the moral stand and hard-earned reputation of a compatriot.
We are ready to supply the committee with more information if required.

N.R. Gratie lui Viorika Arestenu - e posibil sa-l avem oaspete in aceasta toamna in Toronto pe scriitorul Petru Popescu

Viorika Aresteanu    4/19/2005


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