Nicholas Dames at n+1:
MIRCEA CĂRTĂRESCU HAS EXISTED IN ENGLISH for less than two decades, and in only a fraction of the original Romanian. Julian Semilian’s 2005 translation of Nostalgia, Cărtărescu’s coda to the Ceaușescu period, was the introduction. One volume of his Orbitor trilogy, published as Blinding and translated by Sean Cotter, followed in 2013; the rest of the trilogy has yet to appear. More, though not significantly more, is available in Spanish and French, and the vast bulk of Cărtărescu’s work — several other novels, two of which postdate Solenoid; volumes of journals and criticism; considerable amounts of verse, including Levantul, a notoriously “untranslatable” epic poem from 1990 that doubles as a history of Romanian poetry — remains inaccessible. But with Cotter’s translation of Solenoid, there is now just enough in English to see the outlines of Cărtărescu’s territory.
It is continent-sized in its imaginative breadth, but largely restricted to one city: Bucharest. More so, to the immediate environs of his upbringing.