Today’s book of choice is the first one from a Romanian writer reviewed by the badgers. Dan Lungu’s “I am an old communist hag” is the perfect first choice, solely for the fact that it balances past and present in a humorous, satirical way. We have a saying in Romania: faci haz de necaz (loosely translated it means you laugh your troubles away).
This book perfectly sums up this saying. The story is presented from the point of view of Emilia, a retired factory worker that has lived most of her life in the communist era of Romania, and has trouble adapting to the new way of life of democracy. The action jumps back and forth from her childhood to present day, and the trigger is the visit of her daughter, who has lived in the USA for some years and her American fiance, who she now meets for the first time.
The social and cultural differences between generations (beautifully depicted as differences between her and her daughter) are presented in a subversive kind of lighthearted humor that will have you laughing out loud.
Not having lived through much of the communist era myself (I was just 1 year old when the regime fell), this book gave me a glimpse into the lives of my own parents and their friends, and the way things worked back then: an if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours kind of life philosophy, while trying to hide everything from the Central Power that was in charge of the country.
I deeply recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy to read book, filled with laughter and good humor but that has a deeply serious undertone, exploring the gap between generations and political views.