Bloggers love a controversy, right? So here’s a storm in a teacup for you.
A Romanian orphan (yes, one of those) escapes from horrific abuse at the hands of ‘Mama’ and her cohorts, spends his childhood in the sewers under Bucharest, and is finally rescued by a visiting American aid worker. Safe in the US, he writes an autobiographical novel based on his experiences – the violent deaths of most of his friends at the hands of brutal police, persecution under Ceaucescu’s regime and the supposedly democratic one which replaced it, and revenge murders of family (not his) and the infamous orphanage staff.
The novel is called God’s Buried Children, and it’s on sale on Amazon. Therein the controversy. If you look on Amazon, you’ll see that lots of reviewers have got very hot under the collar because a) they’ve been asked to give the book five stars without being sent a review copy b) they’ve been contacted by email, I guess off Goodreads, and c) the book is poorly written.
One of the reviews is mine. My review says that I like the book a lot – sure, it’s not perfectly written but the writer IS a Romanian with no formal education whatsoever – and I think the cause (proceeds donated to immigrant kids) is worthwhile. It did occur to me when I was reading the book that maybe it’s some kind of con – but the little details you wouldn’t know unless you were there convinced me. The writing could do with editing – but there’s something poetic about it. It isn’t written in the understated Western tradition, but with an eastern European emotionality that I recognise from my Polish and Croatian friends. The author did email me asking for a review, but he didn’t ask for five stars and he did send me a free copy (I bought the book anyway).
So, well, read the book and see what you think. It’s only $3.99 (a small price to pay to be satisfyingly outraged or deeply moved, whichever it is). And by the way, Bucharest’s sewers are still full of third generation descendants of those original orphans – apparently the government’s only response so far is to block the entrances.