The hot new novel from Romania is based on the premise of excavations of a Roman fort in a small town unearth a mass grave. It is immediately rumored and believed that the bones belong to people executed by the communist regime in the 1950’s and the situation denigrates into a morbid and sensationalist media circus.
Florian builds around this premise a series of biographies and set pieces. Multiple voices speak that tell stories often tangentially related to the main story. There’s Petrus the archaeologist who spends a lot of time listening to the stories, dreams, and prognostications of the elderly women of town. There’s the priest who waits on the next apparition of the Virgin. There’s the lone partisan, survivor of the communist era. Then there are the Argentinians, experts in political murders, who fly in to examine the grave.
I’d admit this is not a straightforward nor easy to read novel. Still I enjoyed the humor and the writing of Florian (as translated by Alastair Ian Blyth) which is both poetic in the dreamy sections and poetic in the many portions that describe and list ordinary objects. Florian is an interesting voice and addition to my Around the World For A Good Book project.
Recommended books: The Joke by Milan Kundera, A Mercy by Toni Morrison. This book falls well into the magical realism category, so if you enjoy that you’ll probably like Little Fingers.