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EXILED SHADOW by Norman Manea

Updated: Jan 25

Recommended by Mosaic Magazine and The Arts Fuse as one of the best books of 2023

As a preambul of a future launching event currently in the planning at the Institute, here is a taste of the enthusiastic reception accompanying Exiled Shadow (Yale University Press, 2023) by the ultimate monographer of exile and its psychological and cultural landscape, NORMAN MANEA, Romania`s most translated writer.

Exiled Shadow belongs among the great, intricate, and uncompromising works of contemporary literature.” — Jan Knoffeke, Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)


LA Review of Books

"Exiled Shadow is labeled 'a novel in collage,' and it comprises a patchwork of parts that could act as a syllabus for a literature course taught by the author. A loosely autobiographical narrative, following an unnamed narrator from Romania to Germany to the United States, acts as the glue holding this collage together. The journey is embellished with episodes that may or may not be drawn from Manea’s experiences, such as a stint teaching about clowns 'under terror' at the fictional Buster Keaton College, after which the narrator settles into life at the novel’s Bard College stand-in, an unidentified 'prestigious' East Coast school, where his existence becomes increasingly interior.

Exiled Shadow is saturated in reflections, dualities, and shadows, starting with the parallels between Manea and the novel’s unnamed narrator, referred to as the wanderer, the exile, the nomad, the walking stick, Suitcase, the Misanthrope, and the Nomadic Misanthrope. Throughout the novel, exile is posited and probed as the cure for that 'wound that won’t heal' identified by the younger Manea newly seeking refuge in 'the country of all possibilities.' During a class lecture, the narrator asserts that '[f]or the former captive and experimental lab rat of a dictatorship, exile becomes the much-awaited liberation from oneʼs ever-present Shadow, from the interlocutor-hound, the neighbor at the disposal of the repressive apparatus.' " Cory Oldweiler, The Wound That Won’t Heal: On Norman Manea’s “Exiled Shadow” - full review here:


"Freed from the dreary, nauseating oppression of Ceasescu`s communist surveillance state, the great Romanian author is thrown back on himself, books, and the Jews."

"Manea is melancholic by nature, a sad fool rather than an antic one. His fancies, which seem so tenuous, have a slightly desperate appeal. 'I no longer trust reality. I’ve replaced it with books,' he writes, and Exiled Shadow is a bookish fantasy, resembling some of Cynthia Ozick’s fictions in its metascholarly quest. Just as Peter Schlemihl remains outside of society in spite of his riches, so Manea’s novel recedes from the reader’s grasp. Exiled Shadow feels unanchored, a product of Western freedom rather than communism’s dark collective shadow. " David Mikics, Norman Manea’s Exiled Shadow - full review here:

Times Literary Supplement

"Manea reveals himself as one of the last great witnesses to twentieth-century barbarity."

"Exile and shadows are both figures of fragility and insubstantiality. When the two are embodied in the same person, the precariousness is compounded. Exiled Shadow is an in-depth exploration of this precariousness, an affliction that seems, Manea believes, to affect Jews in particular, the combination of shadow life and exile being a familiar Jewish condition throughout history." Costica Bradatan, College for clowns. The nomadic survivor of an ugly century - full review here:

Complete Review

"An accomplished work . . . an approachable read even as there is so much depth to it, in its many layers. . . . Well done and engaging—an impressive and significant chapter in Manea’s considerable body of work." M.A. Orthofer, full review here:

Yale Books

"In Exiled Shadow, Norman Manea creates a vibrant mosaic of voices, sources, and stories, to tell the story of the protagonist, known only as the Nomadic Misanthrope, as he leaves communist Romania and is reunited with his friend Gunther, an unrepentant Marxist exiled in Berlin. In this Q&A, we talk with the book’s translator, Carla Baricz, about how she came to work with Norman Manea, her passion for literature, and the power it has, and what she hopes readers will take away from Manea’s work." Exiled Shadow: A Conversation with Carla Baricz - full interview here:

NORMAN MANEA is Francis Flournoy Professor Emeritus in European Studies and Culture and Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College, New York. M.S., Institute of Construction, Bucharest, Romania. He is the author of a long series of novels, volumes of short fiction, and essays. Originally written in Romanian and published in 30 languages, the following titles are also available in English: October Eight O’Clock (short fiction, 1992), On Clowns: The Dictator and the Artist (essays, 1992), Compulsory Happiness (novellas, 1993), The Black Envelope (novel, 1995), The Lair (novel, 2012), The Fifth Impossibility (essays, 2012), The Hooligan’s Return (novel, 2003; 2nd edition, 2013), Settling My Accounts Before I Go Away. An Interview with Saul Bellow (2013), Paradise Found: An Interview with Hannes Stein (2013), Captives (2015). Norman Manea was granted, among others, The Guggenheim Fellowship (1992), The McArthur Fellowship (1993), The National Jewish Book Award (1993), The New York Public Library Literary Lion Medal (1993), The Nonino International Prize for “Opera Omnia” (2002), Napoli Prize for Fiction (2004), Prix Médicis Étranger (2006), Nelly Sachs Prize (2011), The National Prize for Literature awarded by the Romanian Writers’ Union (2012), and the FIL Grand Prize for Literature in Romance Languages (2016). He is a member of Berlin Academy of Art (Germany, 2006), a honorary member of The Royal Society of Literature (United Kingdom, 2011), and was awarded the title Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 2009), the Romanian “Cultural Merit” Order in the rank of Commander (2006), and the National Order “Star of Romania” in the rank of Grand Officer (2016).


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