Burying the typewriter by Carmen Bugan

Burying the typewriter by Carmen Bugan – childhood under the eye of the secret police – is a book written by a Romanian author, a memoir with her family in focus, as it was seen by a young daughter whose father was imprisoned because he protested against Ceaușescu in 1983. The book was shortlisted for the George Orwell Prize for Political Writing in 2013.

The first part of the book, about half, is about her upbringing in what seems as the most common way. She, like many others, remembers it with a positive glow. Although I was born in Romania, my own upbringing couldn’t be more different than hers. As I said, hers is representative of the 1970s and 1980s generations, not mine, I’m the odd one out. Although that allows me to look at her experience from a distance, detached. Some of the things she mentioned would be now considered child-abuse (a child being hit by her teacher at school for not having clean nails), the sort of thing I always considered as such. While it is wrong to judge the past by modern standards, it’s not correct to see it as idyllic either.

Burying the typewriter by Carmen Bugan

She paints a correct picture of life in the countryside, life that many Romanians lived and even more children lived when staying with their grandparents during the school holidays in the summer. It shows a hard life, to be expected in communism. She talks about religion and all sorts of beliefs, presents them as they were, without analysing them. It is a memoir. The second part is about her father’s imprisonment and how life was for them, her mother, siblings, and her grandmother. Her writing is beautiful and easy to follow. She used Romanian words, but seldom, just to create the flavour of the language, in a way.

I enjoyed the book a lot and I would highly recommend it. In its 200+ pages it offers the western reader the chance of understanding life in communism, the oppression of Securitate (Romanian version of Secret police), but also a glimpse into the everyday lives of million of Romanians in that period, from shopping to cleaning, from how the house was decorated to teaching and schools, from holidays to the seaside to celebrations such as Christmas. I am sure the book would offer a lot to anyone interested in seeing the Romanian culture of the 1970s and 1980s.

Burying the typewriter by Carmen Bugan

Details about the picture: a Romanian coffee mug had to be used for this book, of course
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Picador
Year it was published: 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Memoir
Pages: 256

About the author: Carmen Bugan was born in Romania. She is educated at the University of Michigan and Balliol College, Oxford University. Her work was translated into several languages. She writes poetry and prose. She also lectures at various universities in Europe and United States.
She is heavily involved in poetry writing, teaching creative writing and giving tutorials in New York.
Website & Social Media Links: carmenbugan

2 thoughts on “Burying the typewriter by Carmen Bugan”

  • I can imagine this was a very interesting book for you to read. I believe it’s common for people to look back on the past as being idyllic. However, the older I get, the more I realize “the good old days” weren’t always that good.
    Kelly recently posted…Fire in the Thatch by E.C.R. LoracMy Profile

    • Yes, the “the good old days” weren’t always as good as we tend to remember, you are very right about that.

      You are right that for me it was very interesting. I have another similar book that I am very keen on reading. I got these for research, didn’t need them for my paper, so now I’m reading them “for fun”.

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