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2020 - Shortlisted
Florina Enache’s stark collection of twelve stories explores daily life in communist Romania. With a keen ear for the absurd, Enache describes how a corrupt and persecutory regime degrades the communal life it champions. In the title story, named after a children’s playground chant, a family is consigned to poverty when the state seizes their property. In another home speaking freely is impossible—there are ‘ears inside the room’. In ‘You’re in the Army Now’, military leaders are as brutal as the state that demands their loyalty. Yet a group of female soldiers resist through a startling act of tenderness.
In each story, political force invades private space and warps the inner life. Enache shows how friendship, desire and generosity can become forms of sabotage, and even a children’s rhyme can take on an accusing, bureaucratic tone. Enache’s mordant, wry and impassioned narrators offer a remarkable new perspective on life under dictatorship.