Emilia, a pensioner in northern Romania, is forced to confront the nostalgic illusions she nurtures as a reaction to the grim post-communist present when her daughter, now living in Canada, telephones urging her not to vote for the former communists in upcoming elections. Determined to discover in her own mind why ‘things were better back then,’ she explores her memories of growing up in an impoverished village and of her life as a factory worker in the town. But ironic tension grows as the reader glimpses between the lines how nothing was what it seemed in Ceaușescu’s Romania. Interspersed among Emilia’s memories are fantastical, hilarious anecdotes about the dictator, told by a factory foreman who will turn out to have been a secret police informer. I’m an Old Commie! is a subtle and humane novel about self-deception, but also about the ways in which a totalitarian state twisted ordinary lives.
Dan Lungu is one of the most important Romanian novelists to have emerged in the post-communist period. His award-winning novels, which include Hens’ Heaven, How to Forget a Woman, In Hell All the Light Bulbs are Burnt Out, and The Little Girl Who Played at Being God, have been translated into almost every European language, as well as having been made into feature films and adapted for the stage.
I’m an Old Commie!
Translated from the Romanian by Alistair Ian Blythe
2017, Dalkey Archive