An open letter from Dinu Flămând. “ICR County Culture”

open letter

the master. Sergio NestorPresidential Adviser to Culture
the master. Lucien RomascanoMinister of Culture
the master. Adorable FiorelChairman of the Senate Culture Committee
the master. Titus CorlesianChairman of the Senate Foreign Policy Committee

Boycott Romanian Culture in ICR

Bucharest, 7 September 2022

Dear gentlemen,

A few months ago, it was the cultural supplement of the great Spanish daily El Mundo It publishes an entire issue devoted to Romanian literature translated in recent years in Spain. It was said to represent a “bridge” between the eastern and western parts of Europe, and the reaction was pleasantly surprised by these texts. The introductory article even spoke of a true Roman “phenomenon”, emphasizing the continued success of the bookselling of some Roman writers and introducing new manifestations, including a book of poetry for the site below.

A year before that, the Spanish magazine agora (Volume 3, Double, 2021) He devotes almost entirely the 400-plus pages of Roman literature that has finally emerged from anonymity in the Spanish space. Similar to Spain, some Latin American publishing houses opened up to Romanian authors, and European publishing houses also began to look for Romanian writers more often, for printed books, but also for electronic editions. In France, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, and in many other countries where books by Romanian authors have appeared in the past decade, the professional press has greeted with frank astonishment the very existence of Romanian literature. It became visible due to the emergence of a new generation of translators from Romanian into other languages, along with the Romanian mass emigration; But also thanks to the translation and editing software that it constantly supports Romanian Cultural Institute.

This is how this year Romania was able to present titles by classic or contemporary authors almost every day at the Madrid Book Fair, and many Romanian writers were present at the spot to make contact with readers and the press. The same program has allowed us to participate in other prestigious international book fairs: for Paris and Leipzig with more than 30 titles each, on the respective dates, but also in Guadalajara, Stockholm, Turin, Lisbon, London, Beijing, Tel Aviv or through other places. But more than once the Roman writers were greeted with an admirable curiosity, but also a little embarrassed: because in the absence of ancient strategies for introducing our culture, which is the goal of any cultural institution that disseminates information about national culture, the new generations in the West, our culture was simply unknown. So we were also seen as Martians.

But from next year we will not be present at book fairs whether we are from Mars or as poor writers from an unknown country.. Because the new team at ICR has drastically reduced the already insufficient written funding without any explanation. If more than 100 titles were funded last year, this year it will be only 24 (out of 108 accepted). Some of the foreign publishers who had already edited us wanted to continue publishing our latest books as well. I myself had three new publishing contracts with publishing houses in Italy, Portugal and Mexico, which had already published me, and were funded by ICR at the time. All three have now been rejected by a new impromptu committee. The same publishing houses that were evaluated two years ago have now been downgraded, and next to my name as an author the number has been placed 0 (zero). It was a shameful sign to wear it in the category of ‘droppers’ and among them, of course, Livio Ribriano, Mircea Eliade, Mihail Sebastian, Octavian Baller and others. Maybe I shouldn’t feel ashamed!

But I also protest on their behalf! This zero-value financing struck me as an insult, which is why I act. Rather than explaining that there is no money, or that budget constraints have interfered, (this year’s ICR budget is almost equal to previous years’ budget, so nothing or zero is only the new team’s interest in promoting Romanian book in all programs), here is an official institution of You’re supposed to represent me, underestimate me. ICR allows itself to put the value zero, three times in a row, next to my name in an official document. It’s a shame I don’t admit. Of my 25 books published in translations in different countries, half of my books were not funded by the ICR programme. And even if they all already got funding for translation (Never fund me as an author!), I still don’t understand why I should be vilified in the eyes of the editors. Are they supposed to understand that this is my share in my country?

I must have support, and I and other rejected authors, as Portugal motivates me to translate Fernando Pessoa into Romanian, or because Peruvian institutions fund Vallejo’s translation, though these world geniuses no longer need the support of the respective governments to translate into Romanian. Instead of having my own support, I am being slandered by the foundation the Faces created to promote me! What should current or potential foreign editors understand, even if I often have international recognition in their countries’ records? I can reproduce dozens of compliments, but what is the point …

The ICR team has a temporary management position. It would be good if he could design a strategic program for the benefit of the living Romanian culture, and not come and crush said program Translation and publishing support. He is simply obligated to continue a program so hard created during all these years, by successive teams that, though not always of the same view about the purpose of literary translations, have continued to support the process of promoting Roman literature. The program has grown steadily over the past 16 years, but now has abruptly fallen below the first year (2006) level. If we don’t have continuity, we also lose our hard-won editors. And returning to anonymity in totalitarian times, not only we writers, but also our cultural presence in general, after performances, children’s games or other funded fantasies will also enrich our forgetfulness.

That is why I ask you, dear gentlemen, to analyze this injustice imposed on Roman literature (a cultural boycott in full compliance with the law that will not be slow to produce consequences) and to contribute with all the weight of the institutions to which you represent. Urgent restore of the previous program, and little to the level at which it was working. ICR also owes me clarifications and compensation, as I have represented her countless times as a Romanian writer.

always hungry

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