Born in the Bukovina province of Romania, Norman Manea's life and work were marked by his early years in a concentration camp, his afterlife under communist dictatorship and exile. Before leaving, in 1986, for a grant in West Berlin, he published in Romania ten volumes of prose and essays praised by the most important literary critics and irritating official ideologues. His public criticism of the strange nationalist and communist mixture in the Romanian cultural and political life was followed by enhanced surveillance and censorship.

In 1969 he married Josette-Cella Boiangiu, an art conservator.
Since spring 1988 they live in the United States and he is Francis Flournoy Professor of European Studies and Culture and writer in residence at Bard College, New York State. In 2017, he retired from teaching and became Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.

His 1991 essay in The New Republic ("Happy Guilt") on Mircea Eliade's connection to the extreme right movement in the 1930s and 1940s provoked a fierce and lasting hostile campaign in post-Communist Romania, with frequent anti-Semitic overtones. His critical stand towards the Romanian right wing intellectuals, opened the way to an active national debate about this still sensitive subject.

After coming to the West, Manea's books were translated in more than 20 languages (more than 100 volumes) and his articles, essays and short prose appeared in many more countries. (see Bio-bibliography)

Manea was deported as a child, in 1941, by the Romanian fascist authorities, allied with Nazi Germany, to the concentration camp of Transnistria in the Ukraine with his family and the entire Jewish population of the region. He returned to Romania in 1945 with the surviving members of his family and graduated with high honors from the high school (liceu) Stefan cel Mare (Stephan the Great) in his home town, Suceava. He studied engineering at the Construction Institute in Bucharest and graduated with master’s degree in hydro-technique in 1959, working afterwards in planning, fieldwork and research. He has devoted himself to writing since 1974.

In May 2016, with the occasion of his 80th birthday, the Romanian President granted him the highest distinction of the country STEAUA ROMANIEI IN GRAD DE MARE OFITER (The Romanian Star, as a Grand Officer) and some Romanian important cultural organizations organized in Bucharest a Festive Session at the Library of the Romanian Academy about his life and work, with the participation of an ample group of important Romanian and foreign writers.

The Jewish Research Institute YIVO organized, in November 2016, a special festive session for his 80th Birthday.

At the 30th Book Fair in Guadalajara, he received the great FIL Prize for Latinity and the Carlos Fuentes Medal. Bard College honored him with new titles (Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Writer in Residence) and the Bardian Award for his service to the College.

Literary Career

Manea’s literary debut took place in Povestea Vorbii (The Tale of Word, 1966), an avant-garde and influential magazine that appeared in the early years of cultural liberalization in communist Romania and was suppressed after six issues. Until he was forced into exile (1986) he published ten volumes of short fiction, essays and novels. His work contained implied and overt social-political criticism and he faced a harsh treatment from censors and the official nationalist press. At the same time that sustained efforts were made by the cultural authorities to suppress his work, he had the support and praise of the country’s most important literary critics.

After the collapse of the Ceaușescu dictatorship, several of his books started to be published in Romania. In his essay, Blasphemy and Carnival, he has analyzed in depth the Romanian scandal related to his text on Mircea Eliade (Happy Guilt, The New Republic, 1991). Echoes of this scandal can still be found in some articles of the current Romanian press.

Meantime, in the United States and in European countries, Manea’s writing was received with great acclaim. Over the past two decades he has been proposed as a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature by literary and academic personalities and institutions in the United States, Sweden, Romania, Italy and France. Important contemporary writers expressed admiration for the author’s literary work and his moral stand before and after the collapse of communism: among them, the Nobel laureates Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass, Octavio Paz, Orhan Pamuk, Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as Philip Roth, Claudio Magris, Antonio Tabucchi, E. M. Cioran, Antonio Munoz Molina, Cynthia Ozick, Louis Begley, and others.

The Romanian Publishing House Polirom intends to publish soon a festive volume: Norman Manea at 80, containing the debates at the Bucharest session in May 2016.

Honors

1979 - Literary Prize of the Bucharest Writers’ Association (Romania)
1984 - Literary Prize of the Romanian Writer’s Union (withdrawn by the Communist authorities)
1987 - DAAD Berliner Künstler Programm Grant (Germany)
1988 - Fulbright Scholarship, Catholic University, Washington, DC (USA)
1989-1992 - International Academy for Scholarship and the Arts Fellowship, Bard College (USA)
1992 - Guggenheim Fellowship (USA)
1992 - MacArthur Fellows Award (USA)
1993 - The National Jewish Book Award (USA)
1996 - The Marie Syrkin Jerusalem Fellowship in Letters (Israel)
1997 - The Bukovina Literary Prize (Romania)
2002 - The International Nonino Prize (Italy)
2004, 2005 - American Academy Fellowship in Berlin (Germany)
2004 - The Napoli Literary Prize for foreign novel (Italy)
2005 - Holtzbrinck Prize of the American Academy in Berlin (Germany)
2005 - Best foreign book in Spain (El Regreso del Huligan / The Hooligan’s Return)
2006 - Lux Mundi, the Cultural Award of Radio Romania Cultural (Romania)
2006 - Elected jury member of the International Nonino Prize (Italy)
2006 - Finalist, Prix Femina (France)
2006 - Prix Médicis Étranger (France)
2006 - The Cultural Prize of Romanian International Television (Romania)
2006 - Elected member of the Berlin Academy of Art (Germany)
2007 - Finalist, Latinity Prize of the Association of Latin Countries
2007 - Awarded the Order of Cultural Merit (in rank of Commander) by the President of Romania (Romania)
2008 - Honorary degree in literature, University of Bucharest (Romania)
2008 - Honorary degree in literature, Babeș-Bolyai University (Romania)
2009 - The Literary Award of the Fondation du Judaisme Français (France)
2009 - Finalist, Literary Prize of Fundación Príncipe de Asturias (Spain)
2009 - The Observator Cultural Lifetime Award Opera Omnia (Romania)
2009 - Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France)
2011 - Nelly Sachs Prize (Germany)
2012 - Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
2012 - Honorary Degree in Literature, Al.I.Cuza University of Iassy (Romania)
2012 - Fellow of the Institute for Humanities (New York University)
2012 - The National Prize for Literature (Romanian Writers Union)
2012 - The Palau i Fabre Prize for Essay (Spain)
2016 - Awarded the Star of Romania distinction by the Romanian President
2016 - The FIL International Prize for Latinity (Romance Languages)
2016 - Carlos Fuentes Medal
2017 - Honored as Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Writer in Residence and with the Bardian Award


References

Norman Manea’s books have been reviewed in the American, British, French, Romanian, Italian, Spanish, German press. They can be found in New York Times, New York Times Book Review, New Republic, New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle (USA); Times Literary Supplement (UK); Le Monde, Figaro, Lire (France); El Pais, La Vanguardia (Spain); Stampa, La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, 24 (Italy); FAZ, Die Welt, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany) etc. Essential references are to be found in: Neues Literatur Lexicon (1990, Germany), Literary Exile in the Twentieth Century: An Analysis and Biographical Dictionary (1991, USA), Contemporary Authors (Gale Group, 1995, 2008, USA), Who’s Who in America (Marquis, 1995–2010, USA), Dictionarul Esential al Scriitorilor Romani (2001, Romania), Dictionarul Analitic de Opere Literare (2001, Romania), Dictionarul Scriitorilor Romani (2001, Romania), Dictionary of Literary Biography, Twentieth Century Eastern European Writers, 2001, USA), Slovnik Rumunskych Spisovatelu (2001, Czech Republic), Enciclopedia Exilului Romanesc (2003, Romania), Dictionar Cronologic al Romanului Romanesc (2004, Romania), Dictionarul de literatura al Academiei Romane (2005, Romania), Enciclopedia della Letteratura (2008, Italy). See also The Obsession of Uncertainty : In Honorem Norman Manea, Polirom 2011 (Magris, Tabucchi, Roth, Molina, Aridjis, Krüger etc.).


About the Author

1990 - Neues Literatur Lexicon / The New Literary Lexicon. Kindler Verlag, Munich, Germany.
1991 - Literary Exile in the Twentieth Century: An Analysis and Biographical Dictionary. Ed. Martin Tucker. West Port, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
1995 - Contemporary Authors. Online data base: Gale Group Research
1995-2006 - Who’s Who in America. Marquis Who's Who. New Providence, New Jersey. 1995 World’s Authors. The H.W. Wilson Company, Bronx, New York
2000 - Dictionarul Esenţial al Scriitorilor Români (The Essential Dictionary of Romanian Writers). Bucharest: Albatros.
2001 - Dicţionar Analitic de Opere Literare Româneşti / An Analytical Dictionary of Romanian Literary Works. Cluj: Casa Cărţii.
2001 - Dicţionarul Scriitorilor Români / The Dictionary of Romanian Writers. Bucharest: Albatros.
2001 - Dictionary of Literary Biography, Twentieth Century Eastern European Writers. New York City: Hunter College of CUNY.
2001 - Slovnik Rumunskych Spisovatelu / Dictionary of Romanian Writers. Prague: Nakldatelstvi Libri.
2003, 2010 - Enciclopedia Exilului Literar Românesc / Encyclopaedia of the Romanian Literary Exile), Bucharest: Compania.
2004 - Dicţionar Cronologic al Romanului Românesc / Chronological Dictionary of the Romanian Novel), Bucharest: Romanian Academy.
2004 - Encyclopedia of Modern Jewish Culture (Routledge UP)
2005 - Dicţionarul de literatură al Academiei Române / Literature Dictionary of the Romanian Academy.
2008 - Enciclopedia della Letteratura. Milano: Garzanti
2008 - The Writer Uprooted (Indiana UP)
2009 - Aurica Stan - Exilul ca trauma, trauma ca exil in opera lui Norman Manea (Exile as trauma, trauma as exile in Norman Manea's work (Editura Lumen, 2009)
2009 - Agniesza Gutty – Literature in Exile of East & Central Europe (Peter Lang Publ)
2009 - John Naubauer etc - The Exile & Return of Writers from East Central Europe (De Gruyter Publ, Berlin)
2010 - Alice Buzdugan – Der Clown und die asthetische Aktualitat asopischer Literatur - Norman Manea, Symbol des Dummen August, Master Arbeit, Universitatt Regensburg, Deutschland, 2010 ( The Clown and the current aesthetic meaning of coded literature – Norman Manea and the Symbol of the Augustus the Fool, Master Thesis, University of Regensburg, Germany, 2010)
2010 - Anamaria Felecan – Exile, Alo-images and Infra-images in Norman Manea’s and Andrei Codrescu’s Narratives of Origin and Authenticity – Doctorate Thesis at West Univerisity, Timisoara, Romania
2011 - Obsesia incertitudinii – The obsession of uncertainty (IN HONOREM NORMAN MANEA), A Festive Volume, Polirom Publishing House, Romania
2011 - Norman Manea - Variante la un autoportret (Variations to a Self-Portrait), Vatra, magazine, Romania, nr. 5-6, aprox. 100 pages dedicated to author's work
2012 - Claudiu Turcus: Estetica lui Norman Manea, monografie (The East-Ethics of Norman Manea, monography), Cartea Romaneasca Publishing House, Romania
2012 - Manuela Cazan: Exorcising Communism - Three case studies Czeslaw Milosz, Milan Kundera, Norman Manea, (Doctorat Thesis, University of Auckland, New Zeeland.)
2012 - Madalina Puica: Norman Manea – autor roman in exil, (Lucrarea de diploma, Universitatea Viena, catedra de romana (Norman Manea, Romanian author in exile, Diploma thesis, Romanian Department, University of Vienna)
2012 - Brindusa Nicolaescu: Imaginea conditiei umane in opera de fictiune a prozatorului Norman Manea – The image of human condition in Norman Manea's fiction (Doctorat Thesis, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Jassy, published in 2014 as a book, by UPress
2012 - Amelia Ioana Todoran Groza: Paradigmatic Elements in Norman Manea’s Novels, Doctorat thesis at “1 December 1918” University in Alba-Iulia, Romania
2013 - Judith Aistleitner - Thoughts, Memories and literary self-building in small languages (Myriam Anissimov and Norman Manea) - Diplome Work, Viena University)
2014 - Julian Boldea, Claudiu Turcus (coordinators), Norman Manea – Departe si Aproape (Faraway and Nearby), Arhipelag XXI, Romania, 322 pag.
2014 - Dosar Norman Manea, (NM Dossier), 322 pg., Alpha, 1-2-3/2014, Institutul de studii multiculturale, Targu Mures, Romania
2014 - Mihaela Simonca - From Inner Exile to Different Sides of Identity in Norman Manea's work - American Environment as the Facilitator for Anamnesis, Doctorate Thesis, University of Bucharest, Faculty of foreign Languages and Literatures
2014 - Donato Cerbasi – Norman Manea e la lingua romena (NM and the Romanian language), Edizioni Nuova Cultura, Roma, Italy
2014 - Madeleine Teodora Dumitras - Norman Manea, intre subversivitate, dizidenta si exil - teza de doctorat (Norman Manea, between Subversity, Disidence and Exile), University of Oradea, Romania
2015 - Aurica Stan - Sub marca triplei apartenente identitare si culturale, Norman Manea si Herta Miller (The Triple Cultural and identity belonging - Norman Manea and Herta Miller), Doctorate Thesis, University of Bucharest, Romania
2015 - Ioana Gruia and collaborators: La obra de Norman Manea en la ambito hispanico - critica e interpretacion (Norman Manea's work in the hispanic environment - critique and interpretation), Universidad de Granada, Espagna
2016 - Ioana Gruia - Norman Manea's Work in Spain (La Obra de NM Granada University)
2016 - Claudiu Turcus - The East-Ethics of Norman Manea, USA
2016 - The FIL International Prize for Romance Languages and Literature


Documentary Films and DVDs on the Author

2004 - Dieses Jahr in Czernowitz, Vineta Film, Berlin
2008 - In Bucovina lui Norman Manea, Jewish Film Festival, Romania
2011 - Variations to a PortraitDialogue with Robert Boyers, Romanian Cultural Institute, New York
2011 - Norman Manea - A Celebration (The 75 anniversary) – The Romanian Cultural Institute, Bard Graduate Center, New York City b(speeches by Leon Botstein, Robert Boyers, Luca Formenton, Edward Kanterian, Silviu Lupescu, Bogdan Alex Stanescu, Joe Cuomo, Jonathan Brent, Reginald Gibbons, Francine Prose, Edward Hirsch, Paul Bailey, Valerie Miles etc)
2014 - Le beau Danger, Berlinale, The Berlin Film Festival, Joon Film, Berlin
2014 - Exile, a collage, Dialogue with Andrei Ujica, Rene Frolke & Andreea Einhow
2015 - L'Europe des ecrivains: La Roumanie, ARTE
2015 - Compulsory Happiness Interview, TVR, Irina Pacurariu
2016 - Adademie der Kunste, Berlin
2016 - FIL Prize at Guadalajara Book Fair
2016 - YIWO New York - celebration of his 80th Anniversary

 




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