City Lights in conjunction with Deep Vellum and the Romanian Cultural Institute present
Mircea Cărtărescu in conversation with Mauro Javier Cardenas
celebrating the publication of
by Mircea Cărtărescu (translated by Sean Cotter)
Published by Deep Vellum
This event will be both broadcast online and take place inside City Lights Bookstore located at 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco. Those of you who have registered for a virtual event will still be able to experience it on zoom. Although facial covering is not mandatory for this event, we highly recommend it. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. No registration required for the in-store event, Registration is however required to view the virtual portion of this program.
Based on Cărtărescu’s own role as a high school teacher, Solenoid begins with the mundane details of a diarist’s life and quickly spirals into a philosophical account of life, history, philosophy, and mathematics. One character asks another: when you rush into the burning building, will you save the newborn or the artwork? On a broad scale, the novel’s investigations of other universes, dimensions, and timelines reconcile the realms of life and art.
The novel is grounded in the reality of late 1970s/early 1980s Communist Romania, including long lines for groceries, the absurdities of the education system, and the misery of family life. The text includes sequences in a tuberculosis sanatorium, an encounter with an anti-death protest movement, a society of dream investigators, and an extended visit to the miniscule world of dust mites living on a microscope slide.
Combining fiction with autobiography and history— the scientists Nicolae Tesla and George Boole, for example, appear alongside the Voynich manuscript—Solenoid ruminates on the exchanges possible between the alternate dimensions of life and art, as various, monstrous dimensions erupt within the Communist present.
Mircea Cărtărescu is a Romanian novelist, poet, short-story writer, literary critic, and essayist. He has published more than twenty-five books. His work has received the Formentor Prize (2018), the Thomas Mann Prize (2018), the Austrian State Prize for Literature (2015), and the Vilenica Prize (2011), among many others. His work has been translated in twenty-three languages. His novels include Blinding (published by Archipelago Books,) Nostalgia (published by New Directions) and Solenoid (published by Deep Vellum.
Mauro Javier Cárdenas is the author of Aphasia (FSG, 2020) and The Revolutionaries Try Again (Coffee House Press, 2016). In 2016 he received a Joseph Henry Jackson Award and in 2017 the Hay Festival included him in Bogota 39, a selection of the best young Latin American novelists. His interviews and essays on/with László Krasznahorkai, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Javier Marias, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Juan Villoro, and Tatiana Huezo have appeared in Music & Literature, San Francisco Chronicle, BOMB, ZYZZYVA, and The Quarterly Conversation.
Sean Cotter is a translator and professor of literature and translation at the University of Texas at Dallas. A previous National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellow, Cotter is the translator of 11 books, including T.O. Bobe’s Curl and Nichita Stănescu’s Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems, which was awarded the Best Translated Book Award for Poetry. His translation of Magda Cârneci’s FEM, a finalist for the PEN Translation Award, was published by Deep Vellum in 2021.
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/