Domnica Radulescu - "Country of Red Azaleas" - Dr. Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru

"A compelling tale...Radulescu’s prose is fluid and languid—even when she’s describing the madness of war. Her pacing is perfect."
—Associated Press

Domnica Radulescu discusses Country of Red Azaleas. She will be joined in conversation by Dr. Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru.

Presented in partnership with CEERES

At the Co-op

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About the book: From the moment Marija walks into Lara's classroom, freshly moved to Serbia from Sarajevo, Lara is enchanted by her vibrant beauty, confidence, and wild energy--and knows that the two are destined to be lifelong friends. Closer than sisters, the girls share everything, from stolen fruit and Hollywood movies as girls to philosophies and even lovers as young women. But when the Bosnian War pits their homelands against each other in a bloodbath, Lara and Marija are forced to separate for the first time: romantic Lara heads to America with her Hollywood-handsome new husband, and fierce Marija returns to her native Sarajevo to combat the war through journalism behind Bosnian lines.

In America, Lara seeks fulfillment through work and family, but when news from Marija ceases, the uncertainty torments Lara, driving her on a quest to find her friend. As Lara travels through war-torn Serbia and Bosnia, following clues that may yet lead to the flesh-and-blood Marija, she must also wrestle with truths about her own identity.

Told in lush, vivid prose, Country of Red Azaleas is a poignant testament to both the power of friendship and our ability to find meaning and beauty in the face of devastation.

About the author: Domnica Radulescu is the Edwin A. Morris Distinguished Service Professor of French and Italian literature, of Women’s and Gender Studies and Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Washington and Lee University.  Radulescu received the 2011 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and is a Fulbright scholar. She is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: Country of Red Azaleas (Twelve, Hachette 2016), Black Sea Twilight (Doubleday 2010 & 2011) and Train to Trieste (Knopf 2008 & 2009). Train to Trieste has been published in thirteen languages and is the winner of the 2009 Library of Virginia Fiction Award. She has authored, edited and co-edited nine books on French and European novel, theater, exile and representations of women, of which her most recent ones are Women’s Comedic Art as Social Revolution and Theater of War and Exile. Two of her plays, The Town with Very Nice People (2013) and Exile Is My Home (2014) were finalists in the Jane Chambers Playwriting competition. The latter play was produced for a four week run at the Theater for the New City in New York in April/May 2016. The best selling award winning author Sandra Cisneros said the following about her writing: “Domnica Radulescu enriches American letters with her Romanian perspective. We are lucky to call her ours” (2008).  The Associated Press stated about her recent novel Country of Red Azaleas that “Radulescu’s prose is fluid and languid even when she is describing the madness of war.  Her pacing is perfect...” (April, 2016). Radulescu is working on her fourth novel My Father’s Orchards and on a memoir titled Dream in a Suitcase.

About the co-sponsor: The University of Chicago has been providing instruction in disciplines of the CEERES region continuously since 1903, when courses in Russian language and area studies were begun. The center now known as CEERES has been in existence since 1965, and it continues to coordinate instruction and facilitate research about Russia/Eurasia and Eastern/Central Europe, including the Baltic States, Balkans, Caucasus, and Central Asia.

About the interlocutor: Dr. Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Bucharest. Her main research interests are transnational multiethnic narratives, gender in postcolonial and postsocialist studies, interactions between narrative and performance in contemporary global literatures in English. She has published articles in journals such as Comparative Literature Studies, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Perspectives, The European Journal of American Culture etc. and books such as: The Postmodern Condition: Towards and Aesthetic of Cultural Identities (University of Bucharest Press, 2003); Identity Performance in Contemporary Non-WASP American Fiction (University of Bucharest Press, 2008); Between History and Personal Narrative: East-European Women’s Stories of Transnational Relocation (co-edited; Vienna and Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2013); Performance and Performativity in Contemporary Indian Fiction in English (Leiden and Boston: Brill Rodopi, 2015). She is currently completing a book on the global outreach of twentieth-century American culture.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637