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National Day of Reading: Romanian books in English

A selection of recently published titles for a diversity of preferences, interests, and tastes

2021 was a good year for Romanian literature in English translation and expectations for 2022 are running high. As today Romanians celebrate, for the first time, the National Day of Reading, we try to tempt you with a selection of recently published Romanian books in English (or books with a Romanian flavor signed by American authors), hoping to reach as many of you as possible and to address a large diversity of preferences, interests, and tastes.

Our first recommendation is the English translation of one of the most iconic Romanian novels of the 20th century: Rakes of the Old Court by Mateiu Caragiale, published by Northwestern University Press. We invite you to whet your appetite with a passionate presentation made by translator Sean Cotter, who also reads an excerpt from the novel.

Video recording courtesy of Viitorul Român Society.

Still under St Valentine’s spell, our second recommendation is a book of poems by Mircea Cărtărescu: A Spider’s History of Love, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and published in the US by New Meridian Arts.

“lets make love, ma cherie amie, let’s make love toujours /

for tomorrow we’ll be prey to floods, landslides, blind drunkenness, /

for tomorrow a yesterday will creep on a hay spider’s legs through the flowery curls of your hair /

bewildering you, befuddling you…” – Mircea Cărtărescu, Let’s Make Love

Our third recommendation is a feminist novel that has already attracted loads of praise thanks to Sean Cotter’s excellent translation which brought him a nomination for the prestigious PEN Translation Prize: FEM by Magda Cârneci, published in the US by Deep Vellum.

Book available at

Please follow the link for a stirring dialogue between author and translator hosted by Andrew Singer as part of the Middle Ground series of Trafika Europe Radio in May 2021:ârneci-on-her-new-book-in-english

The next recommendation is I Must Betray You (Penguin Young Readers Group) by internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author Ruta Sepetys - a gripping work of historical fiction about young people’s life in communist Romania.

“A historical heart-pounder…Ms. Sepetys, across her body of work, has become a tribune of the unsung historical moment and a humane voice of moral clarity.” –The Wall Street Journal

Read an excerpt and order the novel at

A book that we would recommend to all those interested in Eastern European history is Children of the Decree (Adelaide Books) by Maria D. Holderman, a disturbing account about the orphans of communist Romania.

"This is a story of a remarkable woman told through her own words, as she made her mark on history." –The Write Spot

You can take a look inside and order the book at

We can’t put an end to our series of recommendations without drawing your attention to at least part of the impressive crop of books (poetry, fiction, memoirs) by Romanian-American authors that were published in the United Stated during 2021 and in the first months of 2022. Check them out and enjoy reading!

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